Ajit Doval, Pakistan's Moeed Yusuf to Attend SCO Meet of NSAs in Tajikistan This Week

The key agenda of the NSA conference in Dushanbe would be the volatile situation in Afghanistan.

New Delhi: Ajit Doval’s visit to the Tajikistan capital to meet his counterparts of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation would be the National Security Advisor’s first public face-to-face encounter with his Pakistani counterpart.

Tajikistan, the current president of the SCO, is hosting the conference of national security advisors of the eight member states at Dushanbe on June 22-23. India and Pakistan have been members of this regional group since June 2016.

Pakistani National Security Advisor Moeed W. Yusuf is scheduled to attend the conference as well.

The key agenda of the NSA conference in Dushanbe would be to discuss the volatile situation in Afghanistan, where the number of attacks by Taliban and Daesh (or ISIS) have gone up, even as foreign troops are continuing their withdrawal from Afghan soil.

According to media reports, neither India or Pakistan have proposed any bilateral meetings between the two sides. However, a ‘pull aside’ is not ruled out, as per Times of India.

Doval and Yusuf had both taken part in a virtual meeting of SCO NSAs in September 2020. However, Doval left the meeting mid-way in protest against the map that was projected behind Yusuf’s chair. It was the “new political map” unveiled by Pakistan government that incorporated the Indian territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. India had termed the map an “exercise in political absurdity”.

There has been heightened interest in a potential public India-Pakistan encounter as tensions have been brought down since the beginning of this year.

In February 2021, India and Pakistan re-committed themselves to observing the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control. This was the apparent result of a series of secret discussions held between intelligence officials of both countries. 

The Indian Express reported that Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa told Pakistani journalists in an off-the-record setting that India’s NSA Dova had met with ISI chief Faiz Hameed in Dubai late last year. There has been no reaction from the MEA to these news reports.

A month later, Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers were in Dushanbe for a ‘Heart of Asia’ conclave. However, despite speculation in the run-up to the meeting, the two ministers did not hold a meeting. Publicly, neither side even acknowledged pleasantries, even between officials.

It is highly unlikely that Indian and Pakistani officials will not, at least, greet each other, especially if they are at a small multilateral meeting.