The upcoming Indo-Pak NSA-level talks appeared to be virtually off with the two countries locked in a confrontation over Kashmiri separatists leading to a blame game, PTI reports.
Drawing a red line, India made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday for the talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, was unacceptable.
Pakistan reacted strongly to insist that it would not depart from the “established past practice” of interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders, rejecting India’s advice not to go ahead with their meeting with Aziz.
India hit back accusing Pakistan of trying to evade its commitment to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism as had been agreed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa (Russia) in July.
It said Islamabad’s insistence on meeting Hurriyat leaders as a pre-condition was a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. Moreover, India has always held the position that there are only two, not three, stakeholders in the bilateral relationship.
Unilateral imposition of new conditions and “distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward,” External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Pakistan, on its part, said it cannot accept India’s advice not to go ahead with the planned meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Aziz.
This message was conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad by Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry Friday, Dawn reports.
The statement also said Pakistan is willing to go ahead with the meeting of the NSAs but no pre-conditions will be accepted in this regard.
The press release said India’s insistence to introduce terms and restrict the agenda for the dialogue demonstrates its lack of seriousness to engage with Pakistan.
The statement further said Kashmir is a disputed territory as per the UN Security Council resolutions which are yet to be implemented.
It added that Pakistani leadership has always interacted with leaders of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) during their visits to India and there is no reason to depart from this routine practice.
‘Ball is in India’s court’
Pakistan’s Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the ball is in India’s court as far as the talks between National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval are concerned.
“We are prepared to hold talks for holding talks, but we will not compromise on our rules and principles,” he said.
“Our stance is that talks should definitely be held, all issues between the two countries need to be resolved through a dialogue process,” he said.
With the two sides sticking to their positions, the likelihood of talks between the NSAs on Sunday and Monday appear to be extremely remote.
But neither side was formally calling off the talks.