15/04/2016 8:00 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Peace Process Not 'Suspended' Anymore? Pakistan Says Dialogue With India Is On

POOL New / Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif (R) during the closing session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 27, 2014. A brief meeting between India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart appears to have salvaged a summit of South Asian leaders, with all eight countries clinching a last-minute deal to create a regional electricity grid. REUTERS/Niranjan Shrestha/Pool (NEPAL - Tags: POLITICS)

A week after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said that the peace process is "suspended" with India, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria on Thursday said the door for negotiations was very much open.

Zakaria also favoured “interaction and engagement” between the neighbours with troubled ties, and said both sides were in “contact with each other”.

"Diplomacy is for interaction and engagement between countries," he said when asked whether the door was still open for negotiations between India and Pakistan at his weekly media briefing in Islamabad.

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Foreign secretary-level talks scheduled for the middle of January were derailed after a terror attack on an Indian Air Force base in Punjab’s Pathankot. The strike blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed killed seven Indian security personnel.

After a Pakistani probe team’s visit to the Pathankot base and the arrest of alleged RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan, Pakistan high commissioner Basit decided to 'suspend' the peace process.

A week ago, Basit had said in New Delhi that no meeting was scheduled for now and the present the peace process had been suspended.

The two neighbours had agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz, the advisor to the Pakistan prime minister on foreign affairs, in December.

It came after Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had a seemingly impromptu meeting at the Conference of Parties (CoP)-21 climate summit in Paris on November 30 last year which was followed by a meeting between the national security advisors of the two nuclear-armed neighbours in Bangkok on December 6.

The neighbourly rapport got a significant boost when PM Modi made a surprising stop at Lahore on his way back to New Delhi from Kabul on Christmas Day on the occasion of his counterpart's birthday.

However, with Basit's comment, the chances of that seemed bleak.

In Thursday's media briefing, Zakaria said that during PM Modi's visit to Pakistan in December, it was decided that the two foreign secretaries should meet soon.

"It is hoped that both sides would work out modalities for the FS level talks. We need to look ahead and not think in terms foreclosing any options. Both sides are in contact with each other. Once the modalities are worked out secretary-level talks would take place," he said.

He also said that Pakistan's probe team was evaluating the information shared by the Indian side on the Pathankot attack.

(With inputs from India)

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