The India-Pakistan

NEW DELHI: The India-Pakistan ceasefire marked a milestone in secret talks brokered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that began months earlier, according to a Bloomberg news report.

The UAE, which has historic trade and diplomatic links with India and Pakistan, has taken a more assertive international role under de facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Bloomberg report said.

About 24 hours after military chiefs from India and Pakistan surprised the world last month with a rare joint commitment to respect a 2003 ceasefire agreement, a top UAE diplomat flew to New Delhi for a quick one-day visit, the report said.

The official UAE readout of the February 26 meeting gave few clues of what Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed spoke about with Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar, noting they “discussed all regional and international issues of common interest and exchanged views on them”, the report said.

The ceasefire, the newspaper quoted officials as saying, is only the beginning of a larger roadmap to forge a lasting peace between the neighbours, both of which have nuclear weapons and spar regularly over a decades-old territory dispute.

The next step in the process, the officials said, involves both sides reinstating envoys in New Delhi and Islamabad, who were pulled out in 2019. Then comes the hard part, talks on resuming trade and a lasting resolution on Kashmir, the subject of three wars since India, the Bloomberg report said.

Last week, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa asked India “to bury the past and move forward” while saying the military was ready to enter talks to resolve “all our outstanding issues”.

The comments came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan called for a resolution on Kashmir, which he described as “the one issue that holds us back”. On March 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to wish his Pakistani counterpart well after the latter was diagnosed with Covid-19, another sign that relations between the countries are getting warmer.