NSA-level talks unlikely as India, Pak trade charges

New Delhi, Islamabad harden stand

NSA-level talks unlikely as India, Pak trade charges

India on Friday made its intention clear not to proceed with the National Security Adviser (NSA)-level talks with Pakistan if Islamabad stuck to its plan of arranging a meeting between Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz and Kashmiri separatists within hours of Aziz’s arrival in India on Sunday.

Neither India nor Pakistan officially called off the meeting between Aziz and his counterpart Ajit Doval, but hardened their positions on the issue of Aziz’s scheduled meeting with Hurriyat leaders in Delhi.

“The Pakistani High Commissioner invited Hurriyat representatives to consult with the visiting NSA without confirming either the programme or agenda. This provocative action was completely in consonance with Pakistan’s desire to evade its commitment in Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism,” said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement.

In July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif had agreed in Ufa, Russia, to restart the dialogue process with a meeting between the two NSAs to discuss terrorism-related issues. The meeting was to take place on August 23-24.

“The Ufa understanding on the talks — read out jointly by the two foreign secretaries — was very clear: The NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. The insistence on meeting Hurriyat as a precondition is a complete departure from that understanding. India has always held the position that there are only two stakeholders in our relationship, not three,” said the MEA statement.

Instead of formally calling off the meeting, the MEA put the ball in Pakistan’s court. “The people of both countries can legitimately ask what force compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation,” it said.
 
It said Pakistan had taken 22 days to respond to its proposal of meeting in New Delhi, but then proposed an agenda that was at complete variance with what the two prime ministers had agreed upon in Ufa.

“Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process,” said the MEA statement.

Earlier, Pakistan rejected India's advice on Aziz's engagement downright.

“The 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,” a Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement had said on Friday

 

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