Sharif visited India on May 26 to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

In a move that could allay some of Indian fears over the contentious Kashmir issue, Sharif decided not to meet separatist leaders from Hurriyat during his short trip to India.

Aziz said as it was a ceremonial occasion and they did not feel the need to meet Hurriyat leaders.

However, he added that whenever the issue of Kashmir would be discussed between the two nations, the views of the Hurriyat leaders need to be taken in account.

“As it was a ceremonial occasion, Kashmir was not substantially on the agenda,” Aziz said during a press conference in Islamabad.

“Whenever Kashmir is discussed, their (Hurriyat leaders) views have to be taken along. It was a ceremonial occasion so it was not right time to meet Hurriyat because Kashmir issue was not on agenda but was discussed,” he added.

Aziz said the outcomes of the meeting between Modi and Sharif were better than they expected and added that the Pakistani Prime Minister also invited Modi to visit Islamabad.

“Pak Prime Minister had a constructive bilateral meeting and also invited Indian PM. Although visit was for a ceremonial occasion, the outcome was better than we expected,” Aziz said.

“It was dignified diplomacy not aggressive. This is misinterpretation. See body language, there was warmth and dignity,” he added.
“On both sides, there were sincerity, warmth and determination to move forward,” he further said.

Aziz further said both Modi and Sharif realised that the time was right to talk and try to find a solution to the contentious issues that are holding back peace efforts between the two neighbouring nations.

Aziz said the issue of terrorism was also discussed and Sharif informed Modi how Pakistan was a ‘big victim’ of terrorism itself and reiterated his government and people’s commitment to fight terrorism.

“Both Prime Ministers recognized the need to turn a new page. Both sides express mutual concern to convert confrontation into cooperation,” Aziz said.

“Issue of terrorism came up and the Pak Prime Minister informed his Indian counterpart that terrorism is a mutual concern for both the countries and Pakistan has suffered enormously,” Aziz said.

“People and govt of Pakistan were committed to fighting terrorism and the Pakistani PM conveyed this to the Indian PM,” he added.

On one of the most important and delicate issues for the Indians – 26/11 trial, Aziz said the Indian government did not ask for any special assurances on the issue.

Aziz added that the 26/11 investigation is a legal matter and the law would take its course in this highly sensitive issue, adding that the Indian government urged Pakistan to expedite the trial.

“It’s (26/11) a legal process. Let us law take its course and no special assurances were given, nor did they ask for in this matter,” Aziz said.

“They re-iterated that the 26/11 process should be expedited. There is nothing new in this,” he added.

Pressing on the need of people to people contact between the two nations, Aziz said the two Prime Ministers might meet again this year in September in the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Urging both the countries not to get stuck on ‘composite dialogues’, Aziz said lot of emphasis was laid on the importance of people to people contact between the two sides, which he said was not being implemented in the right spirit.

“The two PMs might meet soon means that it could happen in September on the sidelines of the UN,” Aziz said.

“There was tremendous emphasis on people to people contact......Let us not get stuck on the term ‘composite dialogue’,” he added.

Aziz said the Foreign Secretaries of both the countries would meet soon to take the bilateral agenda forward and they will enhance the entire confidence building process between the two nations.

“So much time has passed and two Foreign Secretaries will meet and take bilateral agenda forward, they will decide process,” Aziz said.

“I hope in the next few weeks this process (meeting of Foreign Secretaries of both countries) will take place,” he added.

On the issue of granting India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, Aziz revealed that progress on this issue was made last year itself but there are certain loose ends that needs to be tied and detailed discussions would take place on this issue too.

“Progress was made last year (MFN status) but there are loose ends. Now detailed discussion will be held on this too,” Aziz said.

Aziz stressed that it would be much easier to facilitate good bilateral relations between the two neighbours as the BJP has got a clear majority in the recently-concluded general elections in India.

Aziz further said that former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh was also a strong advocate of good India-Pakistan relations but since his government was handcuffed by the coalition dharma, he could not do much about it.

He said it would be easier to improve ties between India and Pakistan this time around since the governments in both the countries have a clear mandate.

“Earlier the PM of India wanted to improve relations but he kept saying he did not have mandate. This government has big mandate, like Pakistan. This time (Indian) government is not dependent on coalition partners,” Aziz said.

“Dr. Manmohan Singh had always said he wanted better relations but could not take along all coalition partners,” he added.

(JPN)

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