NEW DELHI: New Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is embarking on a ‘Saarc yatra’ from Sunday. He will vist four Saarc countries, including Pakistan, which will finally end the seven months’ deadlock after New Delhi had cancelled the previously-scheduled Islamad trip.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier this month made an announcement on Jaishankar’s Saarc yatra.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the Foreign Secretary’s ‘first phase’ of Saarc yatra was being done “in accordance with the Prime Minister’s directives”.
Starting with the traditional first destination of Bhutan on Sunday, Jaishankar will go to Bangladesh on Monday. But all eyes are on his third stop - Pakistan on Tuesday, followed by Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Subsequently, Pakistan also announced the trip. “Pursuant to PM Modi’s call to Premier Nawaz Sharif on February, 13, 2015, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar would visit Pakistan on March 3 to 4,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in Islamabad.
This will be seen as a move to thaw relations between India and Pakistan, which had been in deep freeze since last August - punctuated by claims and counter-claims over firing at the border.
In August, former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had called up the Pakistan High Commissioner to announce that she would not be travelling to Islamabad after the latter’s meeting with Kashmiri separatists leaders.