The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hardened its stand on the Hurriyat tangle ahead of talks between the national security advisers, saying any dialogue on terrorism would be futile if Pakistan decided to meet the ‘friends of terrorists’ ahead of a meeting with India.
Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz will be in New Delhi on August 23 and 24 for the talks with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, and will also meet Hurriyat leaders during the visit.
“The separatist leaders and outfits from Kashmir have been pro-terrorists and have a history of helping them. If Pakistan is meeting them ahead of the NSA level talks, the entire debate becomes meaningless,” a BJP leader told HT on condition of anonymity.
The statement from the BJP leader came soon after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj briefed party spokesmen about the proposed talks and is learnt to have reiterated to party leaders that the talks were limited only to the issue of terrorism.
Separatists' house arrest a tense build-up to India-Pak NSA talks
Swaraj’s briefing to BJP leaders appeared to be an exercise to counter the perception that the government had taken “soft line” on talks with Pakistan, particularly after calling off the foreign secretary level dialogue in August last year after the Pakistan envoy to India met separatist leaders from Kashmir ahead of the discussion.
Senior BJP leader and former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha on Thursday demanded the talks be called off immediately and called for declaring the Pakistani High Commissioner persona non grata for "crossing all lines" of diplomatic etiquette by indulging in provocative activities such as inviting Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the India-Pakistan talks.
“This is not the appropriate occasion for talks. From the time of Vajpayee government it has been our policy that terror and talks cannot go together. This is the consistent policy of BJP as well....The talks should be called off," he said, while citing a spurt in terror attacks, ceasefire violations as compelling reasons to do so.
The party, however, defended the decision to have talks with Pakistan. “It is an achievement of the Narendra Modi government that it managed to make terrorism – and not Kashmir as it was during the previous UPA regime – the central point of a dialogue,” said a BJP leader who was present in the briefing by Swaraj.
The 2001 Agra Summit, he said, was also called off when Pakistan refused to talk about terror and raked up the Kashmir issue. “That was the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s position. But the UPA government reversed it in the next 10 years and it led to goof-ups like the one in Sharm el-Sheikh. Today, Pakistan has agreed to just discuss terror and we are clear in how such a discussion can proceed,” he said.
Party leaders said it was at Ufa that the two sides agreed to have NSA level talks on the issue of terrorism, a discussion at the DGMO level to deal with the issue of ceasefire violations and another between BSF and Pakistani Rangers on the issue of infiltration.