In a sign of melting of ice between India and Pakistan, and in indications that New Delhi may have toned down on its measures to isolate Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, India is learnt to have extended an invitation to Islamabad to attend the informal World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Delhi. According to The Indian Express, Pakistan Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik will be attending the two-day conference starting on March 19-20. The developments come days after the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had warned Pakistan and said it will isolate Islamabad if it didn’t stop using terrorism as an instrument of state policy, the report says.
Significantly, the report states that India has “withdrawn its objections to participating in multilateral meetings with Pakistan,” adding that the change in New Delhi’s stance came after it was “pressurized” by the international community to “reach out” to the government and civil society of the neighbouring country. The development has once again raised questions on whether India will participate in the SAARC summit, which will be held in Pakistan, or not.
In other developments, both New Delhi and Islamabad would also soon release women and children and psychologically disturbed prisoners jailed in prisons across the border.
In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided not to attend the 19th SAARC Summit which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad. India’s snub to Pakistan, triggered the collapse of the eight-member grouping as leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have also decided not to attend the meet. The SAARC Summit was to be held on 15–16 November 2016. India had then cited continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan. The central government had then announced that “in the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”
In an apparent response, Pakistan had boycotted a two-day meeting of the SAARC grouping on animal diseases held in New Delhi. The first SAARC Epidemiology Networking Forum meeting was held on February 27-28.