India on Saturday told Pakistan a meeting of the National Security Advisors (NSAs) will go ahead only if talks are confined to terrorism and the Hurriyat is not made a stakeholder, giving Islamabad time till midnight to decide.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj spelt out India’s position hours after Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz said he would travel to Delhi for the talks only if Kashmir is part of the agenda because it is the “most important outstanding issue” between the two sides.
“The Pakistani NSA is welcome if they don’t expand the scope of the talks beyond terror and if they don’t involve a third party...The Hurriyat cannot be made a stakeholder,” Swaraj told a crowded news conference.
Pakistan has time till midnight on Saturday to give an assurance that the meeting of the NSAs will focus only on terror or else there will be no talks, she said. Bilateral engagements will not cease if the talks between the NSAs are not held because there is “no full stop in diplomacy”, she added.
Swaraj explained that the 1972 Simla Agreement between the two countries ruled out any role for a third party, such as the Hurriyat, in bilateral matters. India’s insistence on a fixed agenda for the talks between the NSAs is based on the decision by the Prime Ministers in Russia last month that the meeting will “discuss all issues connected to terrorism”.
“Productive talks can only be held in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” she said, adding Prime Minister Narendra Modi had noted that talks will be lost in the din if bomb blasts continue.
Swaraj sought to blame Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the impasse over the planned meeting, saying he had “decided that something should be done so that the NSA talks are not held” after facing criticism at home for his meeting with Modi in the Russian city of Ufa.
Sharif was criticised by Pakistan’s opposition parties because the Kashmir issue found no mention in the joint statement issued in Ufa but Aziz said on Saturday that the documents reference to “all outstanding issues” between the two countries mean Kashmir too was on the table. Aziz also said Kashmir had to be part of the agenda for the meeting of the NSAs as it the “most important outstanding issue”.
Swaraj said there had been a spike in terrorist attacks and firing along the Line of Control (LoC) since the July 10 meeting in Ufa. The ceasefire on the LoC was violated 91 times since then and there were attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur, where Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Naveed was captured, she said.
She countered Aziz’s remarks about providing dossiers on India’s alleged involvement in terrorism in Pakistan by saying India would present a “live person” – a reference to Naveed.
“Sartaj Aziz says India wants to escape from outstanding issues but we are not running away. We wanted to create an environment for resuming dialogue. We will talk on all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, when terrorism and violence end,” she said.
“There can be no terror and talks but talks on terror is desirable,” she added.
Read:Ready for talks but without any pre-conditions: Pak NSA Sartaj Aziz