New Delhi, Feb 26: In a significant diplomatic development amid border tension, India has invited Pakistan’s Commerce Minister, Pervaiz Malik, to participate in the informal WTO ministerial meeting in the national capital taking place on March 19-20. Malik has reportedly confirmed his attendance for the event.
In India, Pervaiz Malik will meet Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu. However, it is not clear whether the Pakistani minister will also be received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Sartaj Aziz, then foreign affairs advisor, was the last Pakistani leader to visit India in December 2016.
The invitation to Pervaiz Malik comes after the secret back-channel negotiations between National Security Advisors (NSA) Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Nasser Janjua in December last year. Besides, the two sides have also decided to undertake an exchange of all their prisoners in their respective jails, reported Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the decision to participate in the SAARC summit, to be held in Pakistan, comes up again for consideration by the Centre. Amid heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack, India had announced its decision of pulling out of the SAARC summit last year citing increased “cross-border” attacks. Several other South Asian nations had refused to go ensuring a cancellation of the summit.
The government has made it clear that the PM Narendra Modi’s participation in the SAARC summit in Pakistan later this year will be dependent on the action Islamabad takes against those accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks including the mastermind Hafiz Saeed.