Still prepared to go to New Delhi without preconditions: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Saturday said that he was still prepared to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval without any preconditions.

“On my part, I am still prepared to go to New Delhi for NSA talks without any preconditions,” Sartaj Aziz said in a press conference here.

He said he was disappointed that India had virtually cancelled the first ever official talks between the National Security Advisers, scheduled for August 24. India had unilaterally cancelled the talks between the two Foreign Secretaries scheduled on August 25 last year in Islamabad.

“The reason for this regretful second cancellation if it is happening, would be the same: Why did the Pakistan High Commission invite 3 or 4 leaders from the Indian Occupied Kashmir to a reception organized in New Delhi on 23 August to enable me to meet a cross section of Indian political and business leaders,” he stated.

Sartaj Aziz said though India had not officially cancelled the talks but if it happens, the global think tanks and foreign policy experts should carefully ponder over this important question: Is it conceivable that a country like India will cancel the first ministerial interaction between the two countries since Mr. Modi’s take-over, on such flimsy grounds, especially when the main purpose of the meeting was to reduce tensions on the Line of Control and restore trust by addressing each other’s concerns regarding terrorist activities sitting across the table, rather than through the media.

He said more ironic was Indian alibi that Pakistan was trying to distort the agenda, agreed at Ufa and was imposing `new conditions’ for the talks.

The National Security Adviser said three-point agenda proposed by Pakistan, was fully in line with the Ufa (Russia) statement including discussion on all terrorism-related issues, reviewing progress on actual decisions, made at Ufa like prompt release of fishermen, better arrangements for religious tourism, and activation of mechanisms for restoring peace across the LOC and the Working Boundary.

Moreover, exploration of the modalities for discussions on all other outstanding issues including Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen was also on agenda, he added.

Sartaj Aziz said India seemed reluctant to recognize the significance of the most important sentence in Ufa Statement:

“India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues”.

“The word “K” is very much present in this sentence because everyone knows that the most important outstanding issue between the two countries is the future of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance  with the United Nations Resolutions.

He said the statement of the Spokesperson of Indian External Affairs Ministry that Pakistan has imposed new conditions totally ignored the last sentence of the note, handed over to the Indian High Commission on 21 August that “Pakistan is ready to hold NSA talks without any preconditions”.

Sartaj Aziz said in fact it was India which introduced a new condition through its “advice” that Pakistan should not meet Hurriyat leaders, thus assuming the right to determine the guest list for the High Commissioner’s reception.

He said it had been an old tradition that Pakistani leaders visiting India hold meeting with Kashmiri leaders.

He also reiterated that peace and stability could only be achieved through resolution of Kashmir issue.

“India cannot wish away that Kashmir is not an issue. If it is not an issue, what is the logic behind deploying hundreds and thousands of troops there,” Sartaj Aziz questioned.