New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Monday signed an agreement to exchange security information, officials said, opening up a new channel of communication between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
The accord clears the way for regular contacts between India’s military-funded Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) and Pakistan’s state-run Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS).
“The purpose is to build channels of communication at the level of scholars, because exchanges of security studies had been limited because of the strained ties we have had,” ISS director Shireen Mazari said at a signing ceremony in New Delhi.
IDSA head Narendra Sisodia, a former Indian defence secretary, said the accord was a landmark because “except for contacts at international forums, we never had open discussions on security issues.”
The pact stipulates that the two mutually-suspicious think tanks will send experts to participate in state-sponsored workshops in India and Pakistan and later engage in joint military research projects.
The South Asian rivals, who have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947, set in motion a slow-moving peace process in 2004, five years after they came dangerously close to their fourth conflict.
The dialogue has led to closer political contacts and greater transport links, but the two armies have shunned direct contacts except for annual discussions on unresolved disputes.
Sisodia cautioned, however, that Monday’s accord between the IDSA and the ISS would not replace any official dialogue.