Modi Cites Simla, Lahore Pacts for Talks

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he is open to talks with Pakistan on all outstanding issues in the fra­mework of Simla and Lahore pacts, but he indicated no time in an interview published on Thursday. 

“We remain open to bilateral dialogue with Pakistan on all outstanding issues in an environment free from terrorism and violence,”

Narendra Modi Pictures

Mr Modi told Hindustan Times in his first interview to an Indian newspaper. He was speaking a day before leaving for France, Germany and Canada. Bilateral ties went into a freeze after Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit held meetings with the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders last year which annoyed the Indian foreign ministry. Since then, the two sides have taken tentative steps towards a possible resumption in dialogue, with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishan­kar visiting Islamabad for talks with his Pakistani counterpart. “The Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration have to be the basis for going forward,” he said, referring to two bilateral treaties agreed between the troubled neighbours to normalise relations and curb a nuclear arms race in South Asia. “Peace can only thrive when the climate is right,” Mr Modi said, when asked when the bilateral dialogue could resume. He signalled his desire to build bridges with Pakistan when he invited South Asian leaders, including his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration last year.

He followed it up with his ‘sari-and-shawl’ diplomacy with Mr Sharif, which rekindled hopes that the détente was well intentioned, the Hindustan Times said. Off-and-on discussions between India and Pakistan do not have a record of durable success, and the slow progress of the trial into the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people, have fed fears in India that Pakistan is not serious about acting against militant groups on its soil. India on Thursday reacted strongly to a Pakistani court’s order to release 2008 Mumbai terror attack’s alleged mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi terming it as an “extremely disappoi­nting development” and asked Islam­abad to immediately ensure that he does not come out of jail. “This is an extremely disappointing development. Pakistan must ensure that terrorists like Lakhvi do not come out of jail,” a senior Home Ministry official said.