Pakistan denies again: No backchannel talks with India


Pakistan has not only downgraded diplomatic ties but suspended bilateral trade with India….reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan has again denied it was holding any ‘backchannel’ talks with bordering India but reiterated its desire for a peaceful neighbourhood.

“At this stage, there is no backchannel (talks) between Pakistan and India,” The Express Tribune quoted Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch as saying at a press briefing.

Relations between the two neighbouring countries have remained at a standstill for the last many years.

Pakistan has not only downgraded diplomatic ties but suspended bilateral trade with India.

However, there was a chance of a possible thaw in ties when two countries engaged in backchannel talks in 2021.

The secret meetings between senior security officials of Pakistan and India in the UAE led to the renewal of ceasefire understanding along the Line of Control (LoC) in February 2021, The Express Tribune reported.

The next move was to restore bilateral trade but the process came to a halt when the government of then premier Imran Khan turned down the decision to import sugar and cotton from India.

Some reports later claimed that backchannel talks even discussed the possibility of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Pakistan.

Both sides, however, never officially confirmed or denied those reports.

There were hopes of some positive movement after the change of government in Pakistan in April last year, The Express Tribune reported.

However, nothing happened because of political and economic uncertainty in Pakistan.

Sources said even backchannel talks between the arch rivals were no longer active.

In January this year, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar maintained that ever since the current government came to power, there had been no backchannel talks under way between Pakistan and India.

As elections are scheduled in Pakistan later this year and India too will head for parliamentary polls early next year, therefore, no major development in the bilateral relationship is expected in the foreseeable future, The Express Tribune reported.

Against this backdrop, it will be interesting to see if Pakistan attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers conference in India in May and summit meeting in June.

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