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Pakistan and India prepare to Talk

India and Pakistan are preparing for another round of talks. Indian Foreign Secretary is visiting Islamabad soon to resume the talks from the point his predecessor had disrupted arbitrarily.  Since then, Pakistan took a principled stand that as India has disrupted the process, the onus to restart is also on India. American pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi has worked. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif  is, by default, obsessed with the desire of  having good relations with India.

Talks are always good, even if they do not lead towards enduring peace, tensions are reduced. However, Pakistan-India dialogue has a poor track record, most of the times India walks away from the process whenever  any substantial ground is about to be covered. Though many useful agreements have been reached between the two countries bilaterally, frequency of failure has alarmingly increased since 9/11. To succeed, the upcoming round should be focused and structured engagement, covering all core issues, including Kashmir.  No dramatic breakthrough is envisaged, yet cautious optimism is in order.

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Pakistan asks America to keep its troops in Afghanistan till stability

In a clear departure from its earlier position, Pakistan has cautioned against the US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan without first achieving the complete peace and security in the country. “Pakistan has been reiterating that the US forces should stay in Afghanistan till the achievement of complete peace and stability,” Foreign office spokesperson said at the weekly briefing on October 18. “I would like to draw your attention to the chaos in the aftermath of the withdrawal of USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics] in the late 1980s. The region cannot afford anything similar, at this time,” he added. Provincial governor, Police and Intelligence chiefs were assassinated in an attack in Kandahar province while the top American commander in Afghanistan General Austin Miller narrowly escaped. Probably, it was an inside job. Over thirty percent polling stations are not likely to open due to violence during October 20 parliamentary polls. Afghanistan is undoubtedly in a chaos, and Pakistan's concerns about post US pullout are not unfounded. May be Pakistan is anticipating a sudden pullout by President Trump. Whatever, the people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence over this change of stance.

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