India-Pakistan NSA meeting: Talking terror in the midst of terror?

The warmth and bonhomie seen between the leaders of India and Pakistan in the Russian city of Ufa barely three weeks ago seem to be rapidly evaporating into thin air. The terror attack on a police station in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, blamed on Pakistan-based militants, and frequent ceasefire violations, along with mutual recriminations, have vitiated atmosphere between the two compulsively suspicious neighbours. But the redeeming news, amid the usual charges and counter-charges, is that the meeting between the National Security Advisers (NSAs) – the principle outcome of the Ufa meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on July 10 – hasn’t been derailed.

In fact, India has proposed August 23-24 as dates for the meeting of NSAs, which is expected to focus on terror-related issues, said sources in Delhi. Confirming it, Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz said in Islamabad that a proposal for the National Security Advisors meeting towards the end of August has been received by Islamabad. Pakistan has not yet confirmed the meeting and neither has any agenda for the meeting been set.

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Gurdaspur terrorists came from Pakistan: India

It’s a disclosure that’s going to test the so-called Ufa spirit, which essentially means not letting terror attacks derail the course of dialogue to resolve issues between India and Pakistan. In a matter-of-fact manner, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the parliament on July 30 that the terrorists who targeted Gurdaspur came from Pakistan, and warned of “a befitting reply”.

It’s not clear what form this befitting reply take, but for now going by the latest signals and messaging, New Delhi seems to have taken a measured view not to allow the Gurdaspur incident to deflect it from the planned meeting of the National Security Advisers of the two countries. The NSA-level meeting, which will focus on terror-related issues, was the key outcome of the July 11 meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city of Ufa.

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