Islamabad: The Imran Khan-led Pakistan government is actively considering appointing a national security advisor to revive backchannel diplomacy with India to iron out issues hindering the resumption of peace talks between the two nuclear-armed countries, official sources said. Since assuming office in August last year, PM Khan repeatedly reached out to India for the resumption of peace talks on all outstanding issues. But India has made it clear to Pakistan that terrorism and dialogue will not go hand-in-hand.
The likely appointment of the NSA is meant for reviving the backchannel diplomacy with India to sort out some of the pressing issues between the two neighbours, the official sources said. A senior official said that the government was likely to appoint a retired military official as the NSA. He said certain names were under consideration but no final decision has been taken yet.
The relationship between the two nations currently is at an all-time low after a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed suicide bomber attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir on February 14 that killed 40 soldiers. Now, with the election exercise in India getting over, Pakistan is considering options on how to resume talks with India. One of the options include the appointment of the NSA. In the past, the two countries often used backchannel through the NSAs to prepare ground for any talks.Talking to foreign journalists last month, Khan had said that there might be a better chance of peace talks with India if PM Narendra Modi returned to power.
In 2015, Pakistan’s NSA Lt General (retd) Naseer Khan Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval were instrumental in breaking the ice. The two held meetings in Bangkok leading to the agreement between the two foreign ministers for the resumption of the composite dialogue. The leadership of the two countries used their respective NSAs to communicate on important issues.