On Wednesday India rejected Pakistan’s proposal to hold Foreign Secretary-level talks on Kashmir. Instead, India asserted that it would like to discuss aspects related to cross-border terrorism which are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Responding to Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry’s invitation, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar expressed his willingness to travel to Islamabad but maintained that Pakistan has no locus standi in addressing any aspect of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as it was an internal matter of India. However, India did say that the talks could focus on how to end to cross-border terrorism and infiltration which is responsible for the unrest in the Valley.
India’s response was handed over to Pakistan by the Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Gautam Bambawale.
“Since aspects related to cross-border terrorism are central to the current situation in J&K, we have proposed that discussions between the Foreign Secretaries be focused on them…We have also conveyed that Government of India rejects in their entirety the self-serving allegations regarding the situation in J&K, which is an integral part of India where Pakistan has no locus standi,” sources said while revealing India’s response.
On Monday, Pakistan had invited India for talks on Kashmir, saying it is the “international obligation” of both the countries to resolve the issue.
Pakistan’s invitation comes at a time India and Pakistan are engaged in a war of words over the the unrest in Kashmir.
Last week, while reacting to a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz regarding the invitation, India had made it clear that it would only talk on “contemporary and relevant” issues in Indo-Pak relations.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said: “India would welcome a dialogue on contemporary and relevant issues in India-Pakistan relations. At this time they include a stoppage of Pakistani support for cross-border terrorism, infiltration of terrorists like Bahadur Ali…Incitement to violence and terrorism across the border, parading of internationally recognised terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, and sincere follow up on the Mumbai attack trial and the Pathankot attack investigation in Pakistan.”
Earlier this week, when Pakistan celebrated its Independence Day on August 14, it dedicated it the citizens of Kashmir. Pakistan vowed to come to rescue of the Kashmiri struggle. India reacted by warning Pakistan not to meddle in India’s internal matters.
Protests and violence began in the Valley after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by Indian security forces on July 8. Since then, more than 63 people have died in the protests and curfew is still being imposed in parts even after 40 days.
Wani was described as a martyr by Pakistan, which has also tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue while India has been maintaining that Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the Valley is the root cause of the turbulence.
(With inputs from PTI)