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Pak may appoint NSA for reviving backchannel diplomacy with India: Report

Imran Khan led Pakistan believes that the new Indian Govt lead by BJP will be more positive towards its efforts towards peace.

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

imran khan
Pakistan PM Imran Khan.

The government is actively considering appointing a Security Advisor to revive backchannel diplomacy with to iron out issues hindering the resumption of peace talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, sources said on Sunday.

Since assuming the office in August last year, repeatedly reached out to for the resumption of peace talks on all outstanding issues.

But has made it clear to that terrorism and dialogue will not go hand-in-hand.

The likely appointment of the is meant for reviving the backchannel diplomacy with India to sort out some of the pressing issues between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, the sources privy to the development was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

A senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the government was likely to appoint a retired military as the Security Advisor (NSA).

He said certain names were under consideration but no final decision has been taken yet.

The relationship between the two neighbouring nations currently is at all-time low after a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber attacked a convoy in in on February 14 that killed 40 soldiers.

Amid mounting outrage, the (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting what it said was a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside on February 26.

The next day, the PAF retaliated and downed a in an aerial combat and captured Abhinandan Varthaman, who was later released and handed over to India on March 1.

Now, with the almost two-month long election exercise getting over, the is considering options on how to resume talks with India.

Pakistan believes that the new government in India after the would be more receptive to Khan's offer of peace talks.

When asked about the prospects of resumption of talks given the current hostilities, the official said Pakistan was optimistic.

The reason for this optimism stems from the fact that new government, whether it is formed by the ruling BJP or the Congress, is unlikely to follow the pre-election rhetoric, he said.

One of the options include the appointment of the to revive the backchannel with India.

In the past, the two countries often used backchannel through the NSAs to prepare ground for any talks.

In 2015, Pakistan's Lt General (retd) and his Indian counterpart were instrumental in breaking the ice.

The two held meetings in leading to the agreement between the foreign ministers of both countries for the resumption of the composite dialogue.

The leadership of the two countries used their respective NSAs to communicate on important issues.

to foreign journalists last month, Khan had said that there might be a better chance of peace talks with India if Modi returned to power.

"If the next is led by the opposition party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Indian-occupied (IoK), fearing a backlash from the right," the told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.

"Perhaps if the BJP a right wing party wins, some kind of settlement on could be reached."

Khan's statement stirred a heated debate both in Pakistan as well as in India, where Modi's opponents mocked him as Pakistan's ally.

In Pakistan, opposition parties criticised Khan for making an 'undiplomatic statement' and also supporting Modi despite his hostile policies.

First Published: Sun, May 19 2019. 21:51 IST