Senior serving and retired Pakistani and Indian officials participated in a conference organised recently by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IIS) in Oman, reports Rezaul Hasan Laskar for Hindustan Times.

The 15th edition of the Southern Asia Security Conference saw officials from both sides participating in “off the record” sessions that were held behind closed doors.

The conference, which was held in Muscat from September 17 to September 18, saw the participation of an Indian delegation that included the external affairs ministry’s pointperson for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, joint secretary J P Singh, and at least two former officials from the external intelligence setup who continue to be active in tracking Pakistan-related issues, writes Laskar.


“The Pakistani side was represented by former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, the special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, and Brig Zulfiqar Ali Bhatty, the director of strategic communications in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Haneef Atmar, the foreign minister in the former Afghan government led by president Ashraf Ghani, also participated in the conference.”

The conference was held at a time when there are virtually no bilateral contacts between India and Pakistan, with relations having plummeted since New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019.