After last week’s surprise ceasefire announcement by India and Pakistan, the two neighbours are seriously considering restoring their respective High Commissioners in the missions in New Delhi and Islamabad, highly placed sources have told CNN-News18. India and Pakistan had recalled their High Commissioners after the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019, and both missions have remained headless since then.
The last time both countries recalled their High Commissioners was at the height of Operation Parakram in 2002. It eventually led to the ceasefire agreement of 2003 between General Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It also saw PM Vajpayee travel to Islamabad for the SAARC summit in January 2004.
A similar story could well be in the works this time around, even though sources have said the possibility of PM Modi travelling to Islamabad for a SAARC summit later this year are ‘distant and remote’. But it’s not just politics that goes around in circles. Sometimes, so does diplomacy.
So what has brought about this détente? The Indian Express reported over the weekend that back-channel negotiations had happened between NSA Ajit Doval and the Pakistani civilian and military leadership over the last three months, including a possible meeting in a third country, possibly in the Gulf. Neither side has denied the story.
The ceasefire announcement was preceded by a series of favourable statements coming from both the Pakistani civilian and military leadership. On February 2, Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa had made a strong pitch for Indo-Pak peace.