India, Pakistan blame each other for cancellation of talks

WEB DESK: India and Pakistan blamed each other for the cancellation of talks between their national security advisers that were scheduled for this week, with the rivals squabbling over the agenda.

The meeting scheduled for Monday in New Delhi would have resumed dialogue between the nuclear-armed neighbours a year after India cancelled talks because Pakistan had consulted with Kashmiri leaders.

“The cancellation of talks at the level of the national security advisers is unfortunate. It’s Pakistan which has cancelled the talks and not India,” Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters on Sunday, adding that the possibility of any future dialogue would depend on Pakistan.

Foreign ministry issued a statement late Saturday rejecting India’s suggestion to restrict the meeting to issues related to terrorism. Pakistan was keen on discussing the dispute over Kashmir and meet with Kashmiri leaders.

National security adviser, Sartaj Aziz, did not travel to New Delhi on Sunday as planned. He was scheduled to meet Monday with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval.

Uncertainty about Aziz’s trip began Friday when India said it would not be “appropriate” for him to meet with leaders from Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan’s high commissioner to New Delhi had invited Kashmiri leaders to meet with Aziz.

“It has been pointed out repeatedly that it has been a long-standing practice that whenever Pakistani leaders visited India during the past 20 years, they have been meeting Kashmiri leaders,” Pakistan’s statement said. “It would be inappropriate for India to now impose the condition of changing this long-standing practice.”

India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, said Saturday that Aziz would be welcome if he agreed to limit his discussions to ending terrorism and violence.

“India would discuss the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan after the issue of terrorism is resolved,” she told reporters.

Hours later, Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued its statement, saying it had come to the conclusion that the proposed talks would not serve any purpose if conducted on the basis of the conditions laid down by Swaraj.

Source: Business Recorder