by Ali Hussain
ISLAMABAD:Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Monday dispelled the impression that Kashmir issue was put on the back burner during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Ufa, saying no talks with India will be held unless Kashmir issue is on the agenda.
Briefing media persons, the Adviser also stated that Pakistan has not abandoned its plan to internationalise the alleged Indian interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, adding the decision to take up the matter with the United Nations or not will be taken after his meeting with the Indian National Security Adviser.
He said that the date for his meeting with the Indian counterpart is yet to be finalised but both countries are in touch through diplomatic channels in this regard. He said meeting between the two premiers was not the formal start of any dialogue process but it served an important purpose to achieve an understanding that both neighbours must reduce tensions and hostility in order to constructively engage in a structured dialogue on all issues of bilateral and regional interest, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issues of Indian involvement in insurgency in Balochistan and the Samjhauta Express bombing. On Mumbai trial case, the Prime Minister conveyed to Modi that we need more evidence and information to conclude the trial. “The reference to ‘additional information’ is a recognition of the need that more information is needed to expedite the trial,” he said, adding PM Sharif also sought information on the progress made on the trial of Samjhauta Express incident.
The government came under criticism at home for its ‘failure’ to make the Kashmir issue and Samjhauta Express terrorists bombing part of the joint statement while including the Mumbai terror attack following the meeting at Ufa, Russia. “Issues cannot not be resolved while making it part of the joint statement of an initial contact rather these could be addressed in constructive dialogue…Kashmir issue would be part of our dialogue process and no talks will be held unless the issue of Kashmir is part of the agenda,” Aziz stated in categorical terms.
He stated that the joint statement issued clearly recognises that “India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues”. “Which are those outstanding issues… Kashmir of course tops the list of outstanding issues, but there are also other important issues like Siachen, Sir Creek, Interference and Water,” he said. We would continue to extend political, moral, and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren, he added.
He said that that meeting was aimed at engaging constructively in a structured dialogue on all issues of bilateral and regional interest, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
“There was a frank discussion on each other’s concerns. Pakistan has been deeply concerned, not only about hostile statements from Indian Ministers but also about Indian interference in Pakistan, including continuing support for insurgency in Balochistan,” he said.
He said India on the other hand has been repeating its traditional accusations of cross border terrorism while overlooking the decisive counter terrorism campaign launched by Pakistan in the past two years. To address these acrimonious concerns, the two sides agreed that the National Security Advisers of the two countries would meet, first in New Delhi and then in Islamabad, he added.
He said that the July 10 meeting provided an opportunity to identify some areas where the two countries could promote co-operation right away in order to reduce tensions and hostility. He said that peace and tranquility on the LoC and Working Boundary is in the interest of both countries. Even though at present cease-fire is by and large being maintained, there have been occasions when this ceasefire was violated causing casualties and injuries to people inhabiting those areas, he said, adding both leaders agreed that the existing mechanism of regular meetings between DG Rangers, DG BSFs and DG MOs should be held to ensure full compliance with the 2003 Cease-fire Understanding.
The two sides have also agreed to revive Track II dialogue to explore ways of resolving issues that are lingering for a long time and need to be resolved in order to give peace a chance. Modalities for this track will be worked out through diplomatic channels. Furthermore, he said that issues of bilateral trade also came up and all these issues will now be followed up through different channels. The two Prime Ministers agreed that co-operation in promoting religious tourism will help ameliorate the difficulties faced by our Zaireen. Early release of fishermen is a humanitarian gesture, he added.
He asserted that our supreme national interests, underpinned by a robust defence capability and socio-economic welfare of the people of Pakistan, guide the foreign and security policy agenda of the present government. About Pakistan becoming the full member of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), he said that 10th July 2015 was a very important day in the diplomatic history of Pakistan.
He said that SCO took a unanimous formal decision to admit Pakistan and India into the organisation. The process has been launched and after formalities are completed like ratification of SCO documents, Pakistan will become a full-fledged member of the SCO, he added.
About the meeting between PM Sharif and Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said the two leaders agreed to enhance bilateral relationship in all spheres, particularly in trade, investment and defence. A number of decisions were taken which are now being followed up to maintain and further enhance all-round bilateral co-operation between Pakistan and Russia, he added.
He said Prime Minister’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping provided a welcome opportunity to review, at the highest level, status of progress made in implementing the decisions taken during President Xi’s landmark visit to Pakistan in April 2015, with regard to China Pakistan Economic Corridor and other avenues of our multi-faceted co-operation. Pakistan and China are bonded by deep rooted ties of friendship and all weather strategic co-operative partnership, he added.
Referring to Prime Minister’s meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, he said the two leaders expressed satisfaction on the 7 July meeting between Afghan government representatives and Afghan Taliban to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan. Pakistan hosted the meeting and will continue to support the peace and reconciliation process, based on our conviction that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of our region, he added.
To a question about postponement of Iftar-Dinner party to Kashmiri leadership being hosted by Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that it was decided to host on Eid Milan party after Eid.
Source: Business Recorder