The suspense over much anticipated meeting between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan has only intensified after the latter, virtually lobbing the ball away from their court, left it to the government of India to decide on the fate of the talks. Addressing the eagerly awaited press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan PM’s advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz confirmed that his side is “ready” to come for the talks.
“Cancellation is yet not confirmed from either side, so we are ready to go as per schedule without any pre-condition,” Sartaj Aziz said adding “on my part I am still prepared to go to New Delhi for NSA-level talks”.
Aziz began his presser claiming that the issue of Kashmir was always on the agenda of talks, as it was decided in Ufa. In the process, the octogenarian also claimed that the two sides cannot engage in talks unless Kashmir is included in the agenda.
“There is no deviation from the agenda agreed in Ufa to be discussed…No serious dialogue is possible with India unless Kashmir is included,” Aziz said replying to the queries of journalists.
“Three point agenda including exploring modalities for the talks for all outstanding issues proposed by Pakistan was in keeping with Ufa understanding,” he added.
The talks between NSA Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz have been hit by an uncertainty ever since Pakistan High Commission invited the Kashmiri separatist leaders to hold meeting with Aziz. While India has strongly objected to the proposed meet between the two, Pakistan termed it an “established practice” escalating the issue resulting in jeopardising the NSA talks.
Defending its move to engage with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the NSA-level talks Sartaj Aziz said, “it is India which introduced the condition that there should not be a meeting with Hurriyat leaders which is akin to controlling the guest list for Pakistan reception”.
Sartaj Aziz also used the occasion to criticise the action of Indian authorities to detain the separatist leader Shabbir Shah early on Saturday morning. Shabir Shah and two other separatist leaders were detained on arrival at the Delhi airport by the security agencies in order to prevent the trio from meeting with Aziz, who is scheduled to land in Delhi on Sunday afternoon.
“We are very disturbed about arrest of Hurriyat leaders. It is violation of their fundamental rights,” he said.
Claiming three dossiers on the “activities of RAW” in Pakistan, Aziz said, “I’ll be carrying the dossiers…If I don’t get opportunity to hand over the dossiers to Indian NSA in New Delhi, I hope to give it to him in New York next month if he comes with PM Narendra Modi”.
Lastly, he added, “don’t expect that there will be a breakthrough in NSA-level talks but it will help evolve a mechanism to address issues”.
As the fate of NSA talks hangs in a delicate balance, India too will be clarifying its position with Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj scheduled to address the press later in day.
However, Modi government has already dropped the hints of its stand asserting that the agenda for the talks was set in Ufa, where the Prime Ministers of two nations had held bilateral talks.
“India sticks to that agenda and that cannot not be changed,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said adding, “our agenda is one, whatever talks are held must be on terrorism”.
(With inputs from the PTI)