Pakistan disappointed over pre-conditions for NSA talks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said it was  “deeply disappointed” over the Indian pre-conditions for official talks with Pakistan at the level of the National Security Advisors.

A statement from the Foreign Office said the talks, scheduled for August 23 and 24, flowed from a decision taken by the two Prime Ministers on July 10 in the Russian city of Ufa.

“This is the second time that India has chosen to go back on a decision mutually agreed upon between the two Prime Ministers, to engage in a comprehensive dialogue, by coming up with frivolous pretexts.”

Referring to a statement by the Spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the Foreign Office Spokesman putting the record straight said it was not Pakistan that has placed any condition for the talks.

“In fact, Pakistan has always demonstrated its belief in the dialogue process and is prepared to engage in meaningful talks with India, to resolve all outstanding issues that have bedeviled relations between the two countries, for the past many decades.”

The Foreign Office said Pakistan does not disregard agreements or understandings.

“It is the Indian side which has reneged on commitments agreed upon between the two Heads of Government in the past year.”

The Foreign Office pointed that tension between the two countries had increased alarmingly as a result of frequent violations on the Line of Control and Working Boundary, in the past months.

“The need of the hour was for the two countries to engage in sincere and serious dialogue to immediately reduce tensions and to undertake the task of normalization of relations, with sincerity and seriousness.”

Referring to the Pakistan High Commissioner’s invitation to the Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership to a reception in honour of the Adviser on  August 23, the statement said it was very much in keeping with the practice and tradition of the past many years.

“Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established practice.”

“After all, the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders are genuine stakeholders in efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute.”

Pakistan said for India to refuse to engage in talks with Pakistan on this pretext, was a repeat of what it did when it cancelled the Foreign Secretary level talks that were scheduled to be held on August 25 last year, pursuant to the meeting between the two Prime Ministers in Delhi in May 2014.

The Foreign Office Spokesman said for the NSA talks in Delhi,Pakistan had proposed a comprehensive agenda, consistent with the decisions taken by the two Prime Ministers in Ufa, which included discussion on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

It also included discussion on terrorism related matters, and other issues such as religious tourism, release of fishermen and peace and tranquility on the LoC.

“However, regrettably, the Indian side’s desire to restrict the agenda to terrorism related issues only, amounts to a negation of the decisions taken by the two Prime Ministers.”

“Pakistan wishes to reiterate its abiding commitment to promoting a relationship of cordiality and cooperation with all its neighbours, including India, in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s vision of a peaceful neighbourhood,” the Foreign Office said.