Need more 26/11 trial evidence, Kashmir on talks agenda: Pakistan
Pakistan said on Monday there can be no talks with India if the Kashmir issue is not part of the agenda even as it called on the Indian side to provide more evidence to conclude the trial of Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks.india Updated: Jul 14, 2015 01:46 IST
Three days after India and Pakistan agreed to kickstart stalled ties, Islamabad injected a dose of cold reality into proceedings by refusing to talk if Kashmir were not on the agenda and calling for fresh evidence in the 26/11 trial.
Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, told a news conference in the Pakistani capital that his side would make no compromise on the “core” issue of Kashmir and that no dialogue could take place if it were not on the table.
It also emerged that Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, had invited Kashmiri separatist leaders to his Eid event, a move that was likely to raise eyebrows in Delhi.
“Kashmir of course tops the list of outstanding issues, but there are also other important issues like Siachen, Sir Creek, interference and water,” Aziz said, going on to air a range of sore points that have plagued relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
The Kashmiris’ “right to self-determine their destiny has not been granted” and Pakistan will continue to “extend political, moral, and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren”, he added.
Sharif had been criticised in his country because Kashmir was not explicitly mentioned in the joint statement after the talks with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, and Aziz’s comments were seen as a bid to pacify a domestic constituency. Sources in Islamabad said that the two sides had agreed to take up the Kashmir issue through backchannel Track II diplomacy.
At their meeting in Ufa, Russia, India and Pakistan had agreed on several steps to nudge along their troubled bilateral ties including meetings of top security officials and measures to expedite the trial of the seven Pakistani men charged with involvement in the attacks on Mumbai nearly seven years ago, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
But Aziz said Pakistan needed to see more evidence in the trial of its men who killed over 160 people in India’s financial capital.
“The reference to ‘additional information’ is a recognition of the need that more information is needed to expedite the trial,” he said.
The octogenarian foreign affairs veteran also pointedly referred to the Samjhauta Express blast and the restive Balochistan province, possibly to equate them with 26/11 and Kashmir.
He said Sharif had sought information “on the progress made on the trial of Samjhauta Express terrorist incident” during the talks. Several Pakistanis were killed in the blast, suspected to be engineered by Hindu terror groups.
Aziz said Pakistan was “deeply concerned not only about hostile statements from Indian ministers but also about Indian interference in Pakistan, including continuing support for insurgency in Balochistan”.
But he added that Pakistan has decided to put on hold the prepared case to be taken at United Nations against India for its alleged involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan.
“The decision whether to go to UN or not would be taken only after the meeting between the national security advisers of the two countries,” he said.
India downplayed the comments, saying that the joint statement after the Modi-Sharif meeting formed the core of the bilateral ties.