Noting the pre-conditions set forth by Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Sawaraj for the proposed national security adviser-level talks, the Pakistan foreign office said late Saturday that such a dialogue cannot be held, Express Tribune reports.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah announcing Pakistan's decision to call off the talks
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah announcing Pakistan’s decision to call off the talks

India described the decision unfortunate while asserting that it did not set any “pre-conditions” as stated by that country.

According to a statement released by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan had carefully analysed the contents of Sawaraj’s press conference.

“We have come to the conclusion that the proposed NSA-level talks between the two countries would not serve any purpose, if conducted on the basis of the two conditions laid down by the minister.”

Earlier in the day, Swaraj said New Delhi had made clear on August 18 that the scheduled meeting between national security advisers will only discuss issues related to terrorism.

“No other topic will come under discussion,” she said.

In a statement released in response to Sawaraj’s conference, the Pakistan Foreign Office said: “While the Indian Minister accepts that, to ensure durable peace between the two countries, there is a need to discuss all outstanding issues through a sustained dialogue process, started in 1998 as Composite Dialogue and renamed as Resumed Dialogue in 2011, she then unilaterally restricts the agenda to only two items: creating an atmosphere free from terrorism and tranquillity on the LoC.”

Considering that many terror “incidents” blamed initially by India on Pakistan eventually turned out to be fake, it is not improbable that India can delay the Resumed Dialogue indefinitely by concocting one or two incidents and keeping the LoC hot, said Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah.

Pakistan said terrorism had always been a part of the eight-point composite dialogue and was always discussed simultaneously with other issues between the interior secretaries.

“It is not reasonable for India to now assume the right to decide unilaterally that from now onwards, other issues will be discussed after terrorism has been discussed and eliminated,” he said.

The main purpose of dialogue between India and Pakistan was to reduce tensions and restore trust as a first step towards normalisation.

“If the only purpose of NSA-level talks is to discuss terrorism, then instead of improving the prospects for peace it will only intensify the blame game and further vitiate the atmosphere,” he said.

That is why Pakistan had suggested that apart from discussion on terrorism-related issues, the two sides should also discuss modalities and if possible a time schedule, for discussions on all outstanding issues including Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek, in keeping with the understanding of the Ufa statement.

“The Indian minister’s attempt to draw a distinction between preambular and operative paragraphs in the Ufa statement appears to be an after-thought to justify a position that is counter-productive in terms of the ultimate objective of reducing tensions and improving trust.”

As regards the second pre-condition regarding meeting with Hurriyat leaders, the spokesperson said it had been pointed out repeatedly that the meeting with Kashmiri leaders was a long-standing practice whenever Pakistani leaders visited India during the past 20 years.

It would be inappropriate for India to now impose the condition of changing this long-standing practice, he said.

“Pakistan, therefore, reiterates that the scheduled NSA-level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India,” he said.

Earlier, Swaraj denied that India was laying any pre-conditions for the NSA talks as alleged by Pakistan.

She said she was only invoking the Shimla spirit under which two countries are committed to resolving issues bilaterally and the recent agreement in Ufa where Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had agreed that the NSAs would meet only to discuss terror.

She said Pakistan was “running away” from the talks as India caught a Pakistani terrorist alive after the Udhampur attack.

“We have a jinda aadmi (live person) as proof and that is why he is running away. But we are saying ‘please come for talks, we will give you proof’. If he gives dossiers, we will give him a jinda aadmi,” she said earlier in the day.

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