ISLAMABAD: Days after opposition parties in Pakistan lambasted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government for what they said ‘appeasing’ New Delhi by keeping mum on Kashmir and Indian involvement in Balochistan during an hour-long meeting between two prime ministers in Russian city of Ufa on the sideline of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, Pakistan on Monday categorically said that no dialogue can be held with India if Kashmir is not on the table.
“The meeting was not formal start of any dialogue process. Rather, it has served an important purpose to achieve an understanding that Pakistan and India should reduce tensions to constructively engage in a structured dialogue on all issues of bilateral and regional interest, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told a news conference at the Foreign Office.
He said the joint statement issued after the meeting of Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi clearly said that the two countries are ready to discuss ‘all outstanding issues’, and “of course, Kashmir tops the list of outstanding issues.”
“The statement says very clearly that both sides have agreed on the need to discuss and resolve all outstanding issues. So now, we are not going to beg or show over-anxiety about dialogue. If India follows up with the next step of seeking a formal dialogue, then I can assure you that no dialogue will take place without Kashmir on the agenda,” he said, and added, “This is our clear position in that sense.”
The advisor further elaborated that the joint statement clearly mentions that ‘India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues’.
“And, we all know which these outstanding issues are. Kashmir, of course, is on top of the list, followed by Siachen, Sir Creek, interference in Balochistan and water.”
The advisor said that Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. “Kashmiris’ right to self-determination has not been granted despite suffering of their three generations. We stand by them in their legitimate struggle,” he said, and added that this principled position has already been affirmed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his speech at the UN General Assembly session.
Aziz said the two neighbours have agreed to revive Track-II dialogue to explore ways of resolving outstanding issues and modalities of this track would be worked out through diplomatic channels.
The advisor said that two national security advisers will meet first in New Delhi and then in Islamabad to address Pakistan’s concerns on Indian support for insurgency in Balochistan as well as hostile statements by Indian ministers and New Delhi’s accusations of cross-border terrorism. Aziz said that Pakistan needed more evidence and information to conclude Mumbai attacks trial. “Our view has been, and was so in this meeting too, that we need more evidence and information to conclude this trial,” he said, and maintained that seeking of additional information is itself a proof that Pakistan wants to expedite the trial.
He said Nawaz Sharif also sought information on the progress made on the trial of Samjhauta Express terrorist incident. Aziz dismissed the impression that Islamabad exhibited an apologetic approach towards New Delhi during the Ufa meeting. He said the meeting was held at the request of Indian side and was cordial, with a frank discussion on each other’s concerns. “It was a frank discussion on each other’s concerns. Pakistan is highly concerned about hostile statements by Indian ministers and New Delhi’s continuing support to insurgency in Balochistan. India, on the other hand, has been repeating its usual accusations of cross-border terrorism while overlooking the decisive counter-terrorism campaign launched by us in the past two years. To take up these concerns, we agreed that the national security advisers of two countries will meet first in New Delhi and then in Islamabad,” he said. Aziz sais the two sides agreed that the existing mechanism of regular meetings between director generals of Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force, followed by the meeting of director generals of military operations, should be held to ensure full compliance with the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding.
He said issues of bilateral trade also came up during the meeting, which will now be followed up through different channels.