Pakistan said on Saturday it is prepared to go ahead with crucial talks with India but Kashmir will have to be part of the agenda because it is the “most important outstanding issue” between the two countries.
Sartaj Aziz, advisor to the Prime Minister on national security and foreign affairs, said Pakistan believes Kashmir has to be part of the agenda for any talks even though it is not implicitly mentioned in the joint statement issued after the meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Russia last month.
“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,” he told a news briefing at the Foreign Office.
Aziz said he was prepared to go to India for planned talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Monday provided the parleys are held “without any preconditions”.
A war of words that erupted on Thursday after Pakistan insisted on going ahead with a meet between Aziz and separatist Hurriyat leaders before the formal diplomatic engagement had raised a question mark about the meeting of the National Security Advisors (NSAs).
India has also rejected Pakistan’s move to include Kashmir and other issues in the agenda for the talks between the NSAs, saying the Prime Ministers had agreed in the Russian city of Ufa on July 10 that the meeting would be confined to “all issues connected to terrorism”
“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.
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”, he added.
Aziz said Pakistan was not apprehensive about reports that India’s plans to hand over information regarding the involvement of Pakistani elements in recent terror attacks. He said he intended to hand over three dossiers “on RAW’s involvement in terrorism in Pakistan” to Doval if the meeting is held on Monday.
“If there is no meeting on August 24, we will hand the dossiers over to Doval when we meet in September at the United Nations and also share them with the UN secretary general,” he said.
Reiterating Pakistan’s rejection of India’s advisory that he should not meet the Hurriyat leaders, Aziz described it as a “new condition” and a “wishful narrative”. He also said he was disturbed by reports of the detention of Hurriyat leaders.
“The political leadership and people of Pakistan are committed to support Kashmiris and their right to self-determination,” he said.
“Since he came to power, Modi wants to normalise (relations) on his terms and not talk about Kashmir. But the rights of Kashmiris cannot be denied, the people of Pakistan want us to help them and we are providing them diplomatic, political and moral support.”
Pakistan is not expecting the meeting of the NSAs to lead to any breakthrough but the talks will help reduce tensions on the Line of Control (LoC) and address each other’s concerns, he said. “We do want to restore tranquillity along the LoC...The escalation is very worrisome.”
The planned meeting could help frame modalities for addressing other issues that the Prime Ministers had discussed during their meeting in Ufa, Aziz said. He indicated that other decisions made by the Prime Ministers for engagements between the two sides are on track.
The heads of the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers are expected to meet on September 6 while the Directors General of Military Operations are in touch every week.
Read:NSA talks between India, Pakistan hang in balance