India-Pakistan talks hit snag

Narendra Modi Nawaz Sharif (File)

Delhi called off the National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks with Pakistan after the latter decided to go ahead with talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders….reports Asian Lite News

 Narendra Modi  Nawaz Sharif  (File)
Narendra Modi Nawaz Sharif (File)

India on Friday called off the NSA level talks with Pakistan after the latter decided to go ahead with talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

External affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said National Security Advisers Ajit Doval of India and Sartaj Aziz of Pakistan were to discuss terrorism related issues in New Delhi on August 23-24.

The spokesman said that “unilateral imposition of new conditions and distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward” with the talks.

Since morning rumours were there of the tussle. Islamabad earlier rejected New Delhi’s plea not to meet Hurriyat leaders ahead of the dialogue. To rub it in, Pakistan called the Hurriyat leaders the “true representatives” of Kashmiris.

Pakistan’s foreign office said the Indian request that Sartaz Aziz, the adviser on national security to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who will reach New Delhi on August 23 to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, should not meet the Hurriyat leaders was not acceptable. Pakistan’s decision was conveyed to India’s envoy in Islamabad.

“Kashmir is a disputed territory as per the UN Security Council resolutions which remain unimplemented,” the statement said. “Pakistani leadership has always interacted with the Kashmir/Hurriyat leadership during their visits to India.

“Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established past practice. Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute,” it said.

Pakistan’s response casts doubts over the Doval-Aziz talks, which emerged from a July meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, and could have helped resume the suspended bilateral dialogue process.

The foreign office said Pakistan was willing to attend the August 23-24 meeting of the National Security Advisers “without any pre-conditions”.

Earlier, New Delhi told Pakistan on Thursday that it would “not be appropriate” for Aziz to meet Hurriyat leaders.

Earlier on Friday, India said it wanted the talks between the NSAs to go ahead and that it had sought clarity on the agenda, “which should be held as per the Ufa joint statement”.

Pakistan’s political and military leadership met on Friday in Islamabad. Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting, also attended by army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif. Aziz separately met Lt. Gen. Zia-ur-Rehman, head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Pakistan, however, reiterated its wish to resolve all outstanding issues with India through dialogue.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Hurriyat leaders questioned India’s move asking Aziz not to meet them. Hurriyat leaders have been invited to meet Aziz at a reception organised by the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.

A spokesman for hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who favours Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, told IANS that he would meet Aziz on August 24 separately.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik pointed out that Pakistani delegations visiting India had always met Hurriyat leaders, and so there was nothing new in Islamabad’s move.

Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, felt it would be best for Hurriyat to stay away from New Delhi.

Waheed ur-Rehman Parra, the political analyst to Chief Minister Mufit Mohmmaed Sayeed, told IANS that the India-Pakistan talks were important.

He said it was up to the Hurriyat to decide whether it wanted to promote the talks with their absence from New Delhi or discourage it by going there.

India said a meeting between Aziz and Hurriyat leaders would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the understanding Nawaz Sharif and Modi reached to jointly combat terrorism.

Pakistan said that “all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and other disputes, as well as terrorism and other CBMs will be discussed between the two countries.

“India’s insistence to introduce conditionalities and restrict the agenda for the dialogue demonstrates a lack of seriousness on India’s part to meaningfully engage with Pakistan.”

Indian officials say that since the mandate for the NSAs was only to discuss terrorism-related issues, Kashmir would not figure on the agenda, and thus Aziz’s meeting with Hurriyat leaders didn’t make sense.

Indian officials also say that the Pakistani invite to Kashmiri separatists was designed to scuttle the NSA talks and follows a pattern of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment.

India called off the foreign secretary talks in August last year after the Pakistani envoy invited the Hurriyat leaders for a dialogue ahead of the talks. India says there is no place for any third party in India-Pakistan talks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *