(From Reuters)

The quiet involvement of Pakistan’s powerful military in its foreign policy this year paved the way for reviving a stalled dialogue with India, officials said, a thaw leading to the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian premier in almost 12 years.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R) in a meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at Sharif’s home at Jai Umra in Raiwind

On Friday, Modi and Sharif agreed that their foreign secretaries would meet in mid-January to restart talks.

Pakistani officials say “ownership” of peace talks by the military and the appointment of a recently retired general as the national security adviser have given Pakistan renewed confidence to restart dialogue with India, including speaking about the thorny issue of terrorism.

“This round is different because there is backing from the top where it matters … the army chief is himself on board,” a top diplomat said before the visit.

Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif is said to be close to the new national security adviser, recently retired general Naseer Khan Janjua, who in October replaced civilian Sartaj Aziz, an ally of the prime minister.

Many saw the move as strengthening the army’s hand in talks with India, with the military remaining wary of a civilian government giving too much away.

“General Janjua has immense experience in these matters. He’s the best man for the job and he has already proven to be an asset to this (peace) process,” one member of Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet said earlier in December.

“It’s only an added benefit that he has a direct line to the (army) chief,” he added. Read More

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