NEW DELHI: The deadlock over Kashmiri separatist leaders has cast a cloud over the upcoming Indo-Pak NSA-level meeting after the two countries engaged in strong exchanges though neither side was willing to blink.
“Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people of India occupied Kashmir. Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in its effort to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir dispute,” said the Pakistani statement. Stating that Kashmir was a disputed territory, the Foreign Office said the Pakistani leadership had “always” interacted with Hurriyat and “sees no reason to depart from this established past practice”.
It revealed that Pakistan’s agenda conveyed to India was based on the “broad understanding” reached at Ufa that all “outstanding issues, including Kashmir and other disputes, as well as terrorism and other CBMs will be discussed between the two countries”.
India’s insistence of sticking to the literal meaning of the Ufa statement by adding “conditionalities” and “restricting the agenda” was described as demonstrating “lack of seriousness” to “meaningfully engage with Pakistan”. “For its part, Pakistan remains willing to attend the NSAs meeting without any pre-conditions,” it added.
Within two hours on Friday, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup was back with his second statement of the day - which in return accused Pakistan of setting a “precondition” by Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz’s insistence on meeting with the Hurriyat. He said that Pakistan’s action after the Ufa summit followed a pattern and “today’s position is a culmination of that”. Swarup said there had been a sharp increase in “unprovoked firing from the Pakistani side and some serious cross-border 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,” he asserted.
He pointed out that it took Pakistan 22 days to respond to India’s dates to meet in Delhi, and then it proposed an agenda “that was at complete variance with what the two PM’s had agreed upon in Ufa”. The latest Indian statement mentioned Ufa seven times, as against just once in the Pakistani Foreign Office’s remarks.
The statement was handed over personally by Indian deputy envoy J P Singh to the Pakistan Foreign Office. These “two actions”, India said, indicated Pakistan’s “reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process”.