Taking a dig at India for "lack of seriousness" on meaningful engagements, Pakistan rejected on Friday Delhi's advice that its NSA Sartaj Aziz should not meet separatist Hurriyat leaders before talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, putting the scheduled parleys in danger of being called off.
"Responding to the "advice" of Government of India, conveyed by their High Commissioner that Mr Sartaj Aziz may not meet the Hurriyat leaders during his forthcoming visit to India, the Foreign Secretary conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner that it would not be possible for Pakistan to accept this advice," Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.
"India's insistence to introduce conditionalities and restrict the agenda for the dialogue, demonstrates a lack of seriousness on India's part to meaningfully engage with Pakistan," the statement added.
The response from Islamabad came shortly after Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India had advised the nuclear-armed rival that it would not be appropriate for Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India.
In a series of tweets early on Friday morning, Swarup spelt out India's position on the contentious issue. "Such a meeting (between Aziz and separatists) would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism," he said, referring to the talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city in July.
At the July 10 talks, both sides announced a meeting between the two NSAs in New Delhi to discuss terrorism-related issues.
"Pakistan has proposed and conveyed to India a comprehensive agenda reflecting the broad understanding reached between the leaders in Ufa, that all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and other disputes, as well as, terrorism issues and other CBMs will be discussed between the two countries," the Pakistan government statement said on Friday.
Both factions of the Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq respectively, and other separatist leaders such as Yasin Malik and Naeem Khan, have been invited by Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit for a meeting with Aziz after his arrival in Delhi. Indian officials say the Pakistani invite to Kashmiri separatists was designed to scuttle the NSA talks and follows a pattern of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment.
"Kashmir is a disputed territory as per the UN Security Council resolutions which remain unimplemented. Pakistani leadership has always interacted with the Kashmir/Hurriyat leadership, during their visits to India. Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established past practice. The Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people of the Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir Dispute," the statement said.
"For its part, Pakistan remains willing to attend the NSAs meeting without any pre-conditions," it added.
Ever since Modi and Sharif met at Ufa, tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated due to intermittent firing and shelling by the Pakistani military along the Jammu and Kashmir border.
There were also two terror attacks involving Pakistani terrorists in Gurdaspur in Punjab and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. A Pakistani militant was arrested after the Udhampur attack.