Advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday said that he would visit India for the Heart of Asia conference in December. Aziz hinted that his visit could be used to “defuse the tension” between the two neighbours, which have escalated since the militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri in September, Reuters reported.
Pakistan will attend the conference in Amritsar despite India having “sabotaged” the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit that was to be held in Islamabad, Aziz said, according to Dawn. However, he did not confirm if he would meet Indian officials during the visit. His trip will be the first by a senior Pakistani government official since the Uri attacks. He also reiterated the claim that Indian troops violated the ceasefire and killed seven of its soldiers in the Bhimber sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday night.
After Uri, ties between the two countries had worsened further following the Indian Army’s surgical strikes along the Line of Control, which were seen as India’s response to the Uri attacks. On November 4, an Indian Army official told PTI that Pakistan had violated the ceasefire 99 times since the September 29 surgical strikes on “terror launchpads”. According to the news agency, at least 18 people were killed in the cross-border firing, while over 83 others were wounded.
The two countries have also been involved in a diplomatic row, with each accusing the other’s foreign officials of spying for their governments. On October 27, India declared Pakistani High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar “persona non grata”. Eight Indian High Commission officials then left Pakistan following charges of indulging in “subversive activities”.