PM tried to foster Indo-Pak friendship: Rajnath on talks

RSTV Bureau

Modi-Sharif-2A day after Pakistan sought more evidence against Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in 26/11 Mumbai attack trial and asserted that no talks could be held without Kashmir being on the agenda, the Union government seems to have firmed up its stand too.

Commenting on the Pakistan’s sudden stand of seeking more evidence, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Modiji ne haath nahi failaya tha lekin unka dono desh mein dosti ka prayatna tha (Modi did not plead but had only tried to foster friendly relations between the two countries)”.

The Union Home minister also sounded a warning that the Army will give a “befitting” reply to Pakistan in case of violation of ceasefire.

“Our Army will give a befitting reply to Pakistan if that country violates ceasefire…Kashmir is an integral part of India,” Rajnath Singh told the press in Nagpur.

On Monday, just three days after the much anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Sharif’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told in a press conference at Islamabad that Pakistan “need more information and evidence to conclude the (Mumbai) trial. The reference to ‘additional information’ (in the Ufa statement) is a recognition of the need that more information is needed to expedite the trial,”

The much anticipated meeting between the two leaders was held on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Ufa, Russia on Friday.

In another turnaround of sorts, Pakistan on Monday asserted that the talks between the two nations cannot take place without Kashmir being on the agenda.

“No dialogue will take place with India unless Kashmir issue is included in the agenda,” Aziz added.

But the BJP was quick to dismiss Aziz’s statement as the one marred with domestic compulsions.

“A lot of statement coming from others are also possibly intended to address their domestic constituencies. As fas as we are concerned, the discussion, engagement will largely happen on the lines of the joint statement,” spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said.

File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

However, the principal opposition party Congress sought clarification from the NDA government over the issue of Indo-Pakistan dialogue.

“It is very clear that Pakistani establishment does not want the perpetrators of Mumbai terror strike to be punished. With this background, where was the justification to have a meeting at the level of two Prime Ministers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is answerable to the country,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

“What did I say about premature declarations of victory & misplaced chest thumping?” former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah had also opined by writing on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

Before the meeting at Ufa, PM Modi and PM Sharif had held their last bilateral meet in May last year when the Pakistan Prime Minister had come to New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the relations between the two countries soon suffered a chill after India lodged a protest with Islamabad on the issue of Pakistan High Commissioner meeting the Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the Foreign Secretary level talks. The talks were subsequently cancelled.

Following the episode, the two leaders had met during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu in November last year but had merely exchanged pleasantries.

(With inputs from the PTI)