Pakistan ready for talks without pre-conditions, says NSA Sartaj Aziz


Hitting back at India, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Sartaj Aziz said on August 22 that Pakistan is ready to go ahead with talks but Kashmir will have to be on the agenda as it is the most important outstanding issue. He said that Pakistan believes Kashmir should be a part of the discussion even though it is not mentioned in the joint statement released in Ufa. “The K word is very much in the statement because we agreed to discuss all outstanding issues and everyone knows what is the most important outstanding issue … Kashmir is indirectly there in the statement,” he told a news briefing at the Foreign Office.

After a war of words broke out between India and Pakistan over Pakistan’s decision to continue the planned meeting with separatists, there was speculation that India may call off the talks. However, India reacted by placing the top separatist leaders under house arrest on August 20 before subsequently releasing them. However, in a latest development, one of the separatist leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah was arrested at the Delhi airport and will not be allowed to meet the Pakistan NSA. This certainly indicates that India wants to have the talks as scheduled albeit on its own terms.

India’s diktat to Pakistan to not meet the separatists was viewed as a precondition by Pakistan. “No serious dialogue with India is possible unless Kashmir is on the agenda. This is a reality that India has to recognize. India cannot wish away this issue,” Mr Aziz said. Saying Pakistan is not apprehensive about the dossiers India plans to hand over to them showing Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attacks on India and details of Dawood, Pakistan said it also had dossiers showing Indian intelligence agency RAW involved in terrorism in Pakistan from Balochistan to Karachi. “If there is no meeting on August 24, we will hand the dossiers over to Doval when we meet in September at the United Nations and also share them with the UN secretary general,” he said.

While Aziz has made it clear that he is willing to travel to India for talks, there is still a lack of consensus on both sides to take the peace process forward.

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