When titans meet (PM Modi met Sharif)
After the year began on a sour note over bail granted to Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and ceasefire violations, bitterness was reduced following a meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the climate change conference in Paris on November 30.
The brief meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif set the stage for the meeting of their National Security Advisors (NSAs) in Bangkok within a week. This was followed by the December meeting of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with her counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad.
NSA-level talks called off
Indo-Pak ties dipped to an all-time low in August after their first-ever NSA-level talks were called off at the last minute when the two countries engaged in a war of words over Kashmiri separatists but neither was willing to blink.
Breaking the logjam in their ties only this month, the two countries decided to engage in a 'comprehensive' dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir. Named as Comprehensive Peace Process, it is only different in name from the Composite Peace Process, derailed in 2008 after running for five years when militants launched terrible attacks on Mumbai.
Pakistan's proposal of Foreign secretaries meet
Pakistan has proposed to India middle of January for talks here between their Foreign secretaries to discuss all outstanding issues.
"We have decided that through talks we will resolve the issue of terrorism as talks is the way forward so that the shadow of terror is removed. But we want to make it clear, our Prime Minister has made it clear, that talks and terror can't go together," Swaraj told Parliament last week, adding that India and Pakistan decided to hold talks on terror when PM Modi and Sharif met in Ufa (Russia) in July and then in Paris recently.
Aziz said that the foreign secretaries will meet in January under the new format to work out the details and decide the modalities and schedule of the meetings.
Though Pakistan has a civilian set up but army is part of the new format, as a retired military general, Nasir Khan Janjua, has been appointed as national security advisor. He will directly hold talks with his counterpart on the thorny issue of terrorism, which is closely linked to Kashmir.
Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi
As the two sides prepare to lock horns on the table of discussion, the slow progress on the trial of Mumbai attack mastermind will be a major hurdle. Lakhvi is a free man while Jamaat-u-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed is giving usual anti-India speeches. Though, there is one change, with PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) last month ordering media to stop giving coverage to JuD and banned outfits like LeT. Interestingly, Saeed has so far failed to get a stay order from the court against the PEMRA order.
Terror left Pakistan wounded
Meanwhile, violence in Pakistan continued this year as well, with a spate of attacks on minorities including a suicide assault on a Shia procession in Sindh during Muharram that killed at least 22 people, a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia shrine in Balochistan, killing 12.
In January, as many as 61 people were killed and at least another 60 sustained injuries in a bomb explosion in a Shia imambargah in upper Sindh district of Shikarpur.
Nature's fury added to man-made woes, with a powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake - the strongest in 10 years – jolting Pakistan. The quake that sent severe shock waves as far as Punjab and PoK in October killed over 250 people and injuring more than 1,300 others.
When titans meet (PM Modi met Sharif)