Question mark over Sharif-Modi meeting in New York

RSTV Bureau

India  Pakistan NSAWith the cancellation of NSA-level talks earlier last week, a near freeze seems to be setting in between the governments of India and Pakistan. The latter on Thursday said that so far there was no official proposal for a meeting between the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations annual session. The UN session is scheduled to be held in September.

Speaking to the press in Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said, “There is no such proposal on the table”.

The Foreign Office spokesperson, however, confirmed to the reporters that a meeting between the chiefs of Pakistan’s paramilitary Rangers and India’s Border Security Force will take place in New Delhi in next month.

“Rangers and BSF officials have met in the past as well. They will be meeting again next month to discuss ceasefire violations at the LoC and the Working Boundary,” he said.

Over the weekend, India-Pakistan ties took a hit after the much awaited meeting between the National Security Advisers (NSA) of two countries were called-off. In a first of its kind, NSA Ajit Doval was scheduled to hold talks with Pakistan PM’s adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi on August 23-24.

The proposed high-level dialogues ran into trouble after Pakistan High Commission invited the Kashmiri Separatist leaders to hold talks with Sartaj Aziz, ahead of latter’s meet with NSA Ajit Doval. The move was opposed by the Indian government, which categorically stated that the Separatist leaders of Kashmir were not the “stakeholders” in the talks between two two sovereign nations.

Even while the speculations about the fate of NSA talks were high, differences over the agenda proposed by Islamabad too cropped up leading to the ultimate cancellation. The decisions on the meetings between the NSAs and the heads of border guards were taken during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia.

Speaking on the other contentious issue between the two countries, the Foreign Office spokesperson said that Pakistan’s consistent position on the underworld don Dawood has been that he is not in Pakistan.

“In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to a statement by Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs given in the Parliament a few months ago that whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim were not known. His statement vindicated our position,” he further said.

When asked if Pakistan plans to raise the Kashmir issue and India’s involvement in Pakistan, during Sharif’s address to the UNGA, he said such speech always contains a reference to Kashmir as an outstanding dispute, that need to be settled peacefully through dialogue.

(With inputs from the PTI/Agencies)