Pakistan called off an NSA-level meeting with India after Delhi said it will go ahead only if talks are confined to terrorism and the Hurriyat is not made a stakeholder.
The two sides bickered over the agenda of a proposed meeting on Monday between India’s NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz. The bone of contention is Aziz’s plans to hold consultations with Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders, with New Delhi saying they cannot be a stakeholder.
On the day of fast-paced developments, here are top 10 quotes from different sections that summarise the drama.
1) “The Pakistani NSA is welcome if they don’t expand the scope of the talks beyond terror and if they don’t involve a third party...The Hurriyat cannot be made a stakeholder,” Swaraj told a crowded news conference in Delhi. Asked what would happen if Pakistan did not agree to India's demands regarding the agenda of the talks, Swaraj replied: "Then talks won't happen." She said Islamabad had till Saturday midnight to take a call.
2) “Productive talks can only be held in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” she said, adding Prime Minister Narendra Modi had noted that talks will be lost in the din if bomb blasts continue.
3) "Pakistan is saying that Kashmir is the core issue, but that was not said at Ufa. In Ufa (in Russia), it was decided that all outstanding issues including Kashmir... but first let us discuss terrorism and violence," she said. "As per the Simla agreement spirit, there can be no third party in talks...As per the Ufa spirit, don't increase the agenda."
4) “Sartaj Aziz says India wants to escape from outstanding issues but we are not running away. We wanted to create an environment for resuming dialogue. We will talk on all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, when terrorism and violence end,” she said.
5) “The K word is very much in the statement because we agreed to discuss all outstanding issues and everyone knows what is the most important outstanding issue...Kashmir is indirectly there in the statement,” Aziz told a news briefing at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.
6) “No serious dialogue with India is possible unless Kashmir is on the agenda. This is a reality that India has to recognise...India cannot wish away that this is not an issue,” Aziz said, adding India’s advice not to meet the Hurriyat is a “precondition” and Pakistan is ready to hold talks on the “basis of an open agenda”.
Pakistan information minister Parvaiz Rashid
7) Responding to Swaraj's press conference, Rashid said: "There has been no change in our position, it is India who has changed its position." The minister went on to say that Aziz is ready with his files and baggage to depart to India.
Congress leader Anand Sharma
8) "It is very clear. Pakistan diverted attention from the two major terrorist attacks. Pakistan and its establishment is answerable because the attacks were launched from their territory," he said, and also accused the NDA government of 'lack of clarity'. "Diplomacy and statecraft are serious issues; this government lacks a coherent approach, clarity or a roadmap in resolving issues with Pakistan."
Former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah
9) "With that return of the Aziz lob by Ms Swaraj this match has gone in to a tie-breaker & will now be played under lights," the NC leader tweeted, soon after Swaraj's press conference. The tweet was taken sportingly by his followers and of them said: "Can we call it sudden death."
10) Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader Shabir Shah, who was detained on arrival to Delhi, said: "The talks must go on to subside the pressure on both sides of the Line of Control." Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairperson of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, accused the NDA government of applying double standards on the issue of J-K. "It is pretty clear that the government of India has laid conditions for the dialogue to be taken forward and it seems, more or less, talks won't happen."