New Delhi: With eyebrows being raised on why there was a reference to an Indo-Pak dialogue process in a joint statement with a third country (in this case Saudi Arabia), government sources on Thursday said it was âimportant for the Saudi side to acknowledge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken several decisions (earlier in his tenure) to reach out to Pakistanâ.
Government sources also cited the Indo-Saudi joint statement issued la-te on Wednesday night to say it (the statement) was clear that Saudi Arabia feels that any issue bet-ween India and Pakistan must be discussed in an Indo-Pak bilateral pro-cess. Sources also made it clear that the Saudis did not intend on mediating between India and Pakistan.
As already reported, the Indo-Saudi joint statement had said, âThe two sides stressed the importance of regional stability and good neighbouring relations. His Royal Highness (Saudi Crown Prince Moham-med bin Salman) appreciated consistent efforts made by PM Modi since May 2014 including the Prime Ministerâs personal initiatives to have friendly relations with Pakistan. In this context, both sides agreed on the need for creation of conditions necessary for the resumption of the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan.â
It was seen a clear reference to Mr Modiâs invitation to the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to attend the swearing-in ceremony in May 2014, and also Mr Modiâs brief visit to Pakistan in December 2015.
India has always maintained that it is open to a dialogue with Pakistan but only in an atmosphere free from terror.
Sources also pointed to the fact that the Saudis had shown sensitivity to Indiaâs position on the menace of terrorism even though the joint statement had not indicted Pakistan for it. Sources also said the Saudi side âunderstoodâ Indiaâs position on J&K.
The joint statement issued by the two sides had said, âThe Prime Minister and His Royal Highness condemned in the strongest terms, the recent terrorist attack on Indian security forces on 14 February, 2019 in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir. Both sides called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists perpetrating terrorism from all territories against other states; and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice.â
It had added, the two sides also noted the need for concerted action by the international community against terrorism including through early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of terrorists and their organisations by the UNâ¦ Both sides called up on all countries to renounce the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy.â
Government sources also made it clear that New Delhi was happy over the âannouncementâ of the Saudi Crown Prince âto invest in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health potentially worth in excess of $100 billionâ.
After a request from Mr Modi, Saudi Arabia had also decided to increase the quota for Indian Haj pilgrims to two lakh from the current 1.75 lakh pilgrims. Riyadh also ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners lodged in Saudi jails. In fact, sources said the issuing of the joint statement on Wednesday was delayed till Wednesday night as the Saudis wanted some data on the number of Indian prisoners in Saudi jails. Once the data was procured and the Saudi decision incorporated in the joint statement, it was released, sources said.
The two sides had also inked five pacts in the spheres of investment, tourism, housing and broadcasting and had also decided to establish a Strategic Partnership Council besides instituting a comprehensive security dialogue at the NSA-level as well as setting up a âJoint Working Group on Counter-Terrorismâ.Â Â Â Â Â Â