India, Pakistan to resume ‘track-two diplomacy’

May 31st, 2009 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar Aiyar Islamabad, May 31 (IANS) Although the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan has come to a halt, “track-two diplomacy” is being revived, with an important Indian delegation expected to visit Islamabad next week, a media report said Sunday.
A team from India comprising writers, former diplomats and intellectuals will visit Pakistan to resume the efforts of the previous teams to normalise relations between the two countries, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said Sunday citing official sources.

The track-two diplomacy provides a chance for retired generals, diplomats, and other former decision-makers to exchange notes on a range of bilateral issues and ponder about ways for solving problems between the two countries, the report said.

The main emphasis of the members of the track-two diplomacy will be to exchange ideas, proposals and suggestions with the Pakistani intellectuals, writers, former diplomats and other influential people, so that a fresh joint strategy could be chalked out for the governments in Pakistan and India to resolve all outstanding issues, APP said citing a Pakistani official.

Niaz A. Naik, former Pakistani high commissioner to India and former foreign secretary, is expected to lead the Pakistani side in the talks. He was the founder convener of the “Neemrana group”, later called the track-two or back channel diplomacy, the report said.

Neemrana is the name of a hotel situated on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, 122 km from New Delhi, where the first meeting of the members of the track-two diplomacy was held, according to the report.

Naik was a key figure in the efforts of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian prime ministers, to involve former Pakistani general Zia ul Haq in talks during the 1980s.

V.P. Malik, India’s former army chief and Jehangir Karamat, a former Pakistani general, have been among the active members of the track-two diplomacy. Other members include India’s Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Jairam Ramesh, and Tariq Aziz, former secretary of Pakistan’s National Security Council. He was also an advisor to former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.

Although its past meetings have not produced any dramatic results, the members of the track-two diplomacy are hopeful that the new government in India and a strong democratic set up in Pakistan, as well as the upcoming visit by an Indian delegation to Islamabad next week, would revive the bilateral talks and reach its logical end, the report added.

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