NEW DELHI/ JAIPUR: India said on Friday that "unilateral imposition of new conditions and distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward" with the NSA level talks with Pakistan.
In a strongly-worded statement, India questioned Pakistan's insistence that national security adviser Sartaj Aziz would meet Kashmiri separatists was "a complete departure" from the Ufa agreement reached between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi.
"India has always held the position that there are only two stakeholders in our relationship, not three," the external affairs ministry said in the statement, alluding to the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference invited to meet Aziz in New Delhi ahead of his meeting with Doval.
Government in No Mood to Allow Separatist Leaders to Meet Pak NSA
The wording of the Indian statement indicated that the talks were being called off. However, soon after the statement was reported, Indian officials clarified that New Delhi had not called off the August 23-24 talks.
But it was clear that the talks would be in jeopardy if Pakistan insisted on going ahead with the Aziz-Hurriyat meeting.
Making things more difficult, a Pakistani foreign office statement issued in Islamabad said that "the Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute."
The statment also said that it had not received any official word from India.
The Indian ministry of external affairs statement said: "The people of both countries can legitimately ask today what is the force that compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation."
"India remains committed to discussing issues with Pakistan peacefully and bilaterally. In fact, we took the initiative to engage at Ufa (Russia).
"But unilateral imposition of new conditions and distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward."
The Indian reaction came shortly after Islamabad conveyed to New Delhi that Aziz would very much meet Hurriyat leaders at a reception to be hosted by Pakistan's High Commissioner in New Delhi, Abdul Basit.
"The statement ... does not come as a surprise. There has been a pattern to Pakistan's actions after the Ufa summit, and today's position is a culmination of that approach," the external affiars ministry said.
"At Ufa, the two prime ministers agreed on a meeting of the NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism as well as ensure peace and tranquility on the border.
"Instead, we saw a sharp increase in unprovoked firings from the Pakistani side and some serious cross-border terrorist incidents, the last one, at Udhampur, resulted in the capture of a Pakistani national, a matter that would have naturally come up in the NSA level talks on terrorism, to Pakistan's discomfort.
"In so far as those talks are concerned, Pakistan took 22 days to respond to the Indian proposal to meet in New Delhi. It then proposed an agenda that was at complete variance with what the two prime ministes had agreed upon in Ufa.
"Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process.
"Even more significantly, without confirming either the programme or the agenda, the Pakistan high commissioner invited Hurriyat representatives to consult with the visiting NSA.
"This provocative action was completely in consonance with Pakistan's desire to evade its committment at Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism," the Indian statement said.
"The NSAs ... were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism," it added. "This was the only agenda set for them by the two prime ministers."
Earlier on Friday, Pakistan rejected India's request made on Thursday that Aziz should not meet the Hurriyat leaders ahead of meeting Doval.
The decision was taken at a meeting in Islamabad chaired by Nawaz Sharif and attended by army chief General Raheel Sharif.
Separately, Aziz also met Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar, chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.