The move comes at a time when the Pakistan-India relationship is at its lowest ebb. The frosty ties between the two nuclear-armed hostile neighbours may begin to thaw, if New Delhi accepts the invite.
“A formal invitation has been sent to India and 25 other countries for the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting on Afghanistan to be hosted by Pakistan,” a senior Foreign Office official said on Sunday.
The conference will be held in Islamabad on December 7 and 8. And attendees will include representatives from immediate and extended neighbourhood of Afghanistan, including Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE.
An Indian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed New Delhi has received the invitation but said the decision on whether the external affairs minister will attend the conference has yet to be taken. India is likely to send a high-level delegation headed by the minister given the conference’s importance.
The Heart of Asia Conference, which is primarily convened to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan with particular focus on helping the war-torn country’s economy, may provide an opportunity for both Pakistan and India to re-engage.
Analysts believe India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi may now re-engage with Islamabad as elections in Bihar are over. Officials in Islamabad, however, said it is premature to draw any conclusion at this stage.
In August, a crucial meeting between the national security advisers of Pakistan and India was cancelled at the eleventh hour after bitter differences over the agenda of talks.
Islamabad insisted on all-inclusive talks, including on the Kashmir issue, but New Delhi was adamant that the meeting remained confined to terror-related issues. Ties between the two countries have been on a downward trajectory ever since, with both sides accusing each other of sponsoring terrorism.