By Shafqat Ali
Islamabad: July 19: Pakistan and India have agreed to ease visa restrictions and people-to-people contact. According to a joint statement issued after a bilateral meeting here on Friday, the two sides discussed modalities for implementation of the decisions taken by the ministerial meeting of May 21 on cross-LoC travel and trade.
The working group of Pakistan and India met to discuss measures to facilitate travel and trade across the LoC in the divided state of Jammu Kashmir.
Foreign ministry director-general for South Asia Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry headed the Pakistan side while external affairs joint secretary T.C.A. Raghvan led the Indian side during the day-long meeting. "Both the sides had constructive discussion on host of issues, including launching of truck service, operational of inter-Kashmir bus service on a weekly basis and opening of the crossing point and easing of visa curbs," the statement said.
The working group had agreed on most of the points during the meeting.
The meeting also reviewed issue of opening of five crossing points along the LoC, it said.
On Saturday, foreign secretary Salman Bashir said the fifth round of the Pakistan-India composite dialogue will be launched on July 21 in New Delhi. Mr Bashir will head the Pakistani side to discuss with his counterpart peace and security, including CBMs, and Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
In New Delhi, the Pakistan high commission said that Mr Bashir would arrive in New Delhi on Monday to hold meeting with his Indian counterpart, Mr Shivshankar Menon, on Tuesday at Hyderabad House.
Both sides will look into the prospects of a just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the secretary said. The talks will also focus on peace and security, besides reviewing the implementation of conventional, nuclear and cross-LoC CBMs, he added. The interaction will provide the two foreign secretaries an opportunity to also discuss other areas of bilateral cooperation, said Mr Bashir.
The issue of Kashmir and peace and security would be on agenda when the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India kickstart the fifth round of the composite dialogue.
Mr Aizaz Chaudhry will also be part of the delegation. Mr Bashir will also hold a call-on meeting with Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani on Tuesday. The secretary is also expected to call on external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee. Earlier, both the countries completed the fourth round of the composite dialogue last year and its review meeting was held when the Indian external affairs minister visited Islamabad in May this year.
Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi