NEW DELHI: After dragging its feet, Pakistan Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz, confirmed that he will hold the first ever talks with National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval in Delhi on August 23-24, even as the Indian establishment is getting primed up for the meeting with a list of fugitives and the latest location of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
“Yes, I can confirm it that I will be going to India on [August] 23 for the talks,” Aziz said on Thursday morning. His words ended weeks of suspense on whether Pakistan would come to the table for talks, following recriminations over cross-border firing, shooting down of an ‘Indian’ drone, Gurdaspur attack and the high-profile arrest of Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Naved in Udhampur.
India, as the host country, had given the dates of August 23-24 to Pakistan over two weeks ago. While Aziz announced his assent publicly, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India still hadn’t received the official confirmation.
The NSA-level meeting, which is the first such talks between India and Pakistan, is one of the five steps agreed by both sides at Ufa, Russia, on July 10. The two leaders had agreed that both the NSAs will talk on “all issues connected to terrorism”.
Incidentally, when asked about the delay in confirmation, Pakistani diplomatic sources had earlier said that Islamabad was monitoring whether a proper environment was there to hold the NSA meeting. They complained that India was vitiating the atmosphere by pointing fingers at Pakistan relentlessly following the Gurdaspur incident, as well as the ambush on an Army truck in Udhampur, and subsequent prime-time questioning of a Pakistani terrorist. On Thursday morning, NSA Doval chaired a meeting attended by senior Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA)officials to prepare for the India-Pakistan bilateral meeting. As per the sources, a new list of fugitives was being prepared to be presented to Pakistani side.
Indian officials were also readying the latest transcripts to show that underworld don and one of India’s most wanted criminals Dawood Ibrahim was in Pakistani territory.
India will also raise the tardy progress of the 26/11 trial, with mastermind Zaki-ur-rehman Lakhvi out on bail. This was also raised by India during the Ufa talks and became one of the five outcomes.
“Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples,” said a statement read out jointly by the Indian and Pakistan Foreign Secretaries.
Since India is bringing up 26/11, Pakistan is certain to mention the Samjhauta Express bombing, as well as the recent decision by NIA not to challenge accused Swami Aseemanand’s conditional bail.