Flagging that Pakistan has time till midnight tonight to accept the position stated by India, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj asserted that the National Security Advisor level talks will not go ahead if Pakistan doesn’t agree. India has already conveyed Islamabad to rethink on its dialogue with Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks as well as to desist from raising the “issue” of Kashmir in these talks.
“If Pakistan does not agree to India’s position, there will be no talks,” Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj strongly told the press in New Delhi.
“If Pakistan feels Indian positions are pre-conditions, then there will be no talks,” Ms Swaraj added articulating the stand of the Union government.
Dismissing Kashmiri separatists as the stake holders in the NSA-level talks Sushma Swaraj said, “India has always maintained that there will be no third party in Indo-Pak talks. Hurriyat cannot be a party”.
The Union minister was referring to the issue of Pakistan High Commission sending invite to Kashmiri separatist leaders for holding a meeting with its PM’s advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, ahead of his scheduled talks with NSA Ajit Doval.
“If Pakstan NSA wants to come he is welcome. But talks will only be on terrorism. No scope for expansion of agenda,” Swaraj said setting the agenda straight.
Responding to the claims made by Sartaj Aziz in his presser at Islamabad earlier in day, Ms Swaraj said that there was no reference to Kashmir in Ufa declaration. In the process she once again asserted that agenda of these NSA-level talks is the issue of terrorism.
“In Ufa declaration there was no reference to Kashmir. Respect Shimla accord and Ufa spirit… India is not putting any pre-conditions. Only reminding there will be no talks on Kashmir now. It will be only on terror,” Sushma Swaraj said.
Further taking the Pakistan establishment head on over the recent terror attacks in Jammu and Punjab, the Union minister added, “instead of reducing tensions, Pakistan stepped up terrorism in India, including the Gurdaspur attack, since Ufa talks”.
The presser by the Union External Affairs minister, seen as a response to the press conference held by Sartaj Aziz earlier in the day at Islamabad, only added to the uncertainty over the talks but clearly summed up the stand of the government of India.
“Pakistan is running away from talks which will be held only when we get a reply. Time available is only tonight,” Sushma Swaraj said.
(With inputs from the PTI)