NEW DELHI: Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha on Saturday said that there was no other country in the world as shameless as Pakistan in defending its right to meet leaders of the Hurriyat on Indian soil, when the agenda for the proposed talks at the national security advisor-level was solely focused on the issue of terror and the way forward in terms of countering it.
Sinha told ANI here, “I have heard Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz's statement and I am not at all surprised by that statement.”
“In sheer shamelessness, there is no other country which can match Pakistan,” Sinha added.
Sinha’s acerbic comment came shortly after Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz had said that no serious discussion could take place with India if the Kashmir issue was not included in the agenda.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad this afternoon, Aziz said, “We have already stated that no serious dialogue with India is possible unless Kashmir is on agenda. That is the core issue.”
Aziz further said that whenever he had visited India in the past, he had been given the opportunity and freedom to meet a cross-section of the Indian leadership, and therefore, he could not now understand New Delhi’s move to prevent him from meeting leaders of the Hurriyat at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on Sunday.
“When I go to India, I meet different political leaders. When they come, they meet the (Pakistan) opposition and other leaders. This is strange that they (India) will expect that discussion or a meeting with the Hurriyat will become part of agenda. In Pakistan’s view, it is not a substantial item,” said Aziz.
Recalling the discussions between the two Prime Ministers and their respective delegations in Ufa, Russia, on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, Aziz said, “We agreed on discussing all outstanding issues, and who doesn’t know what is the most important outstanding issue between the two countries. It is Kashmir.”
He further stated that issues like Kashmir or meetings with the Hurriyat leadership are not put on the agenda when the Indian and Pakistani leaders or their officials meet, “but the fact that they are linking this Hurriyat, and that Kashmir was not on agenda, and that is incorrect.”
Earlier, he said that India would be blamed by Islamabad if the talks scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Sunday and Monday is not held.
Aziz said India was responsible for the cancellation of the foreign secretary-level talks that were scheduled to be held on August 25, 2014, and added that New Delhi would also be held responsible if the talks of August 23 and 24, 2015 were cancelled.
“The reason for this regretful second cancellation, if it happens, will be the same,” said Aziz.
The Pakistan NSA said that if India would be presenting documentary evidence of alleged terrorism from Pakistani soil to Islamabad, Pakistan would also not be backing down and would be carrying at least three dossiers on the involvement of the Research and Analysis (the external intelligence agency of India) in Pakistan, most notably in Balochistan, and other evidence.
“We will carry dossiers carrying information of RAW’s involvement in Pakistan,” said Aziz.
He also said that it was India that had introduced new conditions in the agenda and format of the forthcoming NSA talks “with its advice that Pakistan could not meet Hurriyat leaders”.
“We are very disturbed about the arresting of the Hurriyat leaders, as it is a violation of their fundamental rights,” said the Pakistan NSA.
“I urge Mr. Modi (Indian Prime Minister) to ponder over what I call the most important part of the Ufa statement that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace in South Asia,” he added.
“On my part, I’m still prepared to go to New Delhi for the NSA talks, but without any preconditions,” Aziz said.
“As far as we are concerned, we are still ready to hold the talks. We have not formally cancelled the talks. The Indian External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) is holding a press conference this afternoon. We will see what comes out of it,” Aziz said.
Sushma Swaraj will address a press conference in New Delhi at 4 p.m. today, said an Indian Ministry of External Affairs statement.
Though no details were immediately available on what would be the agenda taken up at the press conference by the minister, media circles here believe that it could focus on the Indian Government’s position on the forthcoming NSA talks.
The two press conferences are taking place a day after India and Pakistan sparred through verbal and written statements over Islamabad's determination and intention to meet with separatist leaders from Kashmir ahead of the proposed August 23 and 24 NSA talks.
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that its High Commissioner's invitation to the Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership on August 23 was very much in keeping with the practice and tradition of the past many years.
While India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sent across a strong message to Pakistan, insisting that there are only two stakeholders in the talks between India and Pakistan and added that New Delhi is committed to discuss the issues peacefully and bilaterally.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz for the talks in the national capital on Monday.