NEW DELHI: Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar today welcomed the resumption of Indo-Pak talks with a rider saying NSA-level meetings could not be a "replacement" for composite dialogue process led by the Foreign Secretaries.
Aiyar, a consistent proponent of better ties between the two neighbours, said the National Security Advisers have a "narrow remit" and the latest decision "does not amounts to resumption of dialogue". "I certainly welcome the idea of the NSA's meeting but by definition, the NSAs have a narrow remit. Whereas a Foreign Secretary has a much wider remit and there is a gamut of issues in Indo-Pak relations which were being handled through the composite dialogue coordinated by the Foreign Secretary," he said.
He said, through the latest move, the BJP government had shifted the focus from the setback last year when the dialogue process was stalled "needlessly". "I think the resumption of the (composite) dialogue is much required but that has been needlessly stopped by the Prime Minister's decision last August to draw new red lines without consulting the Pakistanis which was preventing them from consulting the Hurriyat," he said.
BJP spokesperson M J Akbar's jibe, that he was not sure whether Aiyar was in Congress or not, invited a sharp retort from the latter. "I want to ask M J Akbar is he in the Congress party or is he in the BJP. I am not a chameleon like him. I don't change colours," he said.