ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Tuesday extended the Munabao (India)-Khokhrapar (Pakistan) rail link agreement with India for another three years, the foreign ministry said.

Pakistan, a foreign ministry statement said, had agreed to extend the agreement for another three years from February 1, 2018 to January 31, 2021.

The agreement was signed in 2006.

“The rail link facilitates people-to-people contact, which Pakistan believes is essential for improving relations between both the countries,” the statement added.

The Munabao- Khokhrapar train service connects Pakistan’s Sindh and India’s Rajasthan provinces.

The extension in agreement comes amid high tension between Pakistan and India.

The two countries have been at loggerheads since the killing of a Kashmiri freedom fighter, Burhan Wani, in July 2016.

An attack on Indian forces in September 2016, - that killed 19 soldiers in Uri area of held Kashmir - further heightened the tensions.

Later, India started violating the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC).

India also claimed it had carried a “surgical strike” to avenge the Uri attack.

Pakistan rejected the Indian assertion.

For months, Pakistan has been trying to engage India in dialogue to defuse tension but India is reluctant to resume talks.

New Delhi is also not ready to discuss Kashmir, the core issue between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

However, last month, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval held an unannounced meeting in Bangkok to build the trust level.

Reports said Janjua and Doval discussed the Kashmir issue, terrorism and overall bilateral ties.

Days before the meeting with Doval, Janjua had said the back-channel diplomacy with India was on where the solution to the tension was being discussed.

Officials said the two NSAs had also decided to consider releasing the prisoners, – in both the countries, – who were 70 or above.

“Efforts will also be made to release other prisoners who have either completed their term or deserve flexibility due to any reason,” an official told The Nation.

Another official said there had been diplomatic contacts between Pakistan and India aimed at improving the relations.

“There is no big news to share right now but the talks have been positive. We will continue the process to resume the open dialogue,” he added.

Last month, Pakistan had organised a “family reunion” for convicted Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav – dubbed India’s “face of terror”.

Jadhav’s mother and wife, – Avanti Jadhav and Chetenkul Jadhav, were allowed to sit across a glass barrier for 40 minutes and speak to each other.

India claimed Jadhav’s family was mistreated and the meeting could have been conducted in a more relaxed environment.

Pakistan said a convicted spy deserved no facilities, adding the glass barrier was meant for security.

Weeks later, Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said the Indian army was ready to call Pakistan’s “nuclear bluff” and violate the border to carry out any operation inside Pakistan.

“We will call the [nuclear] bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff,” he added.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor had given a shut-up call to India soon after Rawat’s statement.

Both of them urged India not to underestimate Pakistan’s military strength.