New Delhi, Oct. 29: Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz will visit New Delhi on November 11, giving India its first top-level opportunity to articulate deep concerns over repeated ceasefire violations that are threatening Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s politically risky outreach to Pakistan.
Aziz will principally come for a meeting of 51 foreign ministers from Asia and Europe, but likely talks with Singh and national security adviser Shivshankar Menon appear certain to overshadow the official reason for his visit.
India will calibrate its expression of concerns based on whether the violence and tensions along its border with Pakistan ease up by the time Aziz visits, senior government officials told The Telegraph.
Sharif has made multiple overtures to India since returning to power as Pakistan’s Prime Minister in May, and Singh reciprocated those gestures by meeting his counterpart in New York a month ago on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
But multiple ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control and the International Border over the past month threaten to unclasp the hand of friendship the two Prime Ministers extended to each other in New York.
Normally restrained with his words, the Indian Prime Minister has made it clear he is “disappointed” with Sharif.
“I am disappointed, because in the New York meeting there was a general agreement on both the sides that peace and tranquillity should be maintained on the border, on the Line of Control as well as on the International Border and this has not happened,” the Prime Minister said on his flight while returning from China last week. “It has come to me as a big disappointment.”
But Singh had held out the hope that Sharif would realise “even at this late stage” that violence along the India-Pakistan border was not good for either nation.
India plans to test Pakistan on that window of opportunity that Singh left for Sharif, when Aziz visits New Delhi for the 11th meeting of the ASEM grouping of Asian and European foreign ministers.
“It’s possible the border and LoC return to the relative calm we witnessed for the best part of 10 years before the recent events, but if they don’t, it’s a major matter of concern,” an official said.
The Indian Army and paramilitary forces have accused Pakistan of dozens of ceasefire violations over the past month, both along the LoC that separates Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan-held Kashmir, and along the International Border that runs south of the LoC to Wagah.
An Indian junior commissioned officer was killed in firing on Monday in Uri near the LoC. And though the Pakistan Rangers and the BSF manning the region agreed today to refrain from firing, India remains cautious.
India is also likely to use the ASEM platform to reassert its demand that Pakistan stop allowing militant groups in its territory to “export terror”.