Pakistan Says India Has "Virtually" Canceled Security Talks
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Pakistan's top security adviser, Sartaj Aziz, said Saturday that India has "virtually" canceled the upcoming key security talks but he still is ready to travel to New Delhi for the meeting, urging India clarify whether the meeting has officially been canceled.
The meeting of the National Security Advisers (NSA) is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Monday, however, a proposed meeting of Aziz with the Kashmiri leaders has cast doubts over the much publicized talks amid diplomatic tensions over the cross- border shelling.
"I am very disappointed that India has virtually canceled the first ever official talks between the National Security Advisers scheduled for August 24," Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad. He however said Indian government has not officially informed about the cancellation, Xinhua reported Saturday.
Controversy over the meeting stated after Pakistan said the security adviser will meet Kashmiri leaders at a reception at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday New Delhi has "advised" Pakistan to avoid meeting Kashmiri leaders, but the " advice" was rejected by Islamabad.
Pakistan insisted meeting with Kashmiri leaders is a tradition for years as Pakistan consults with them ahead of talks with India.
Indian media has reported that a senior Kashmiri leader, Shabir Shah, was arrested on Saturday by police in New Delhi as he arrived for meeting with the Pakistani adviser.
Aziz disputed the statement of the Official Spokesperson of the Indian External Affairs Ministry that Pakistan has imposed new conditions for the talks and said the Indian spokesman has " totally ignored" a note that Pakistan had handed over to the Indian High Commission on Friday which says, "Pakistan is ready to hold NSA talks without any preconditions."
He said it was India which introduced a new condition through its "advice" that Pakistan should not meet the Kashmiri leaders," thus assuming the right to determine the guest list for the High Commissioner's reception."
If officially canceled, it would be the second time in one year that talks between the two countries are canceled.
On August 17 last year, India had unilaterally canceled the talks between the two Foreign Secretaries in Islamabad, as a protest over a meeting between the Kashmir leader and Pakistani High Commission in the Indian capital.
Pakistani and Indian prime ministers had agreed on the meeting of the NSAs when they met at Ufa, Russia, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. The main item on the agenda was discussions on terrorism-related issues.
Aziz said another main purpose of the meeting was to reduce tensions on the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region and restore trust by addressing each other's concerns regarding terrorist activities sitting across the table rather than through the media.
Pakistani and Indian troops have been involved in exchange of fire along the LoC that caused civilian casualties on both sides.