India proposes NSA meeting with Pakistan on August 23-24

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2015 15:40 IST

Pakistan has received a proposal from India for a meeting between the National Security Advisors of the two countries on August 23-24, Sartaj Aziz, the Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security, said on Sunday.

Aziz was quoted by state-run Radio Pakistan as saying that Pakistan had not yet confirmed the proposed meeting. The agenda of the meeting too has not been fixed, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif had agreed during their meeting in the Russian city of Ufa last month that the National Security Advisors would meet in New Delhi to discuss “all issues connected to terrorism”.

The two leaders agreed on several measures aimed at taking forward stalled bilateral ties, including meetings of the heads of the BSF and Pakistan Rangers and the Directors General of Military Operations, the release of fishermen in each other’s custody, the promotion of religious tourism and ways to expedite the trial of seven Pakistani men charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

However, a recent terror attack in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district – which India blamed on Pakistani terrorists – has cast a shadow on the process. Seven people, including a senior police officer, were killed by three terrorists before they were gunned down by security forces.

Home Minister Raj­nath Singh, while speaking in Parliament, had warned of a “befitting reply” to the terror attack. Reports have suggested that India will take up the attack during the meeting of the National Security Advisors.

India is also expected to raise the trial of the men accused in the Mumbai attacks, and the release on bail of Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the assault.

Though Aziz said Pakistan is yet to confirm the meeting of the National Security Advisors, the Dawn newspaper quoted a source as saying that it would be difficult for Islamabad to walk away from the meeting.

Several options are being weighed as it is felt “Pakistan is disadvantageously placed in this format of talks on terrorism”, the daily reported.

Pakistan would flag its concerns about alleged Indian involvement in fomenting terrorism in Karachi, Balochistan and tribal areas, the report added.

Aziz, in a written statement in Pakistan’s parliament on Fri­day, said Prime Minister Sharif will speak about alleged Indian involvement in Pakistan during his speech at the UN General Assembly next month.

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