There were mixed reactions from Indian political leaders after Pakistan’s decision to call off the NSA-level talks with some calling it “unfortunate” and “disappointing” while some warning against similar tactics in any future engagement.
India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed as “unfortunate” Pakistan’s decision to call off the NSA-level talks and asked why the country had not raised the Kashmir issue at Ufa if it was so keen to do so during the scheduled talks, while the Congress accused the government of falling prey to Pakistani designs.
Speaking to reporters in Lucknow, Singh said India wanted the talks and “it is unfortunate” that Pakistan called them off.
Stressing Kashmir was never on the agenda of the proposed meeting between National Security Advisers Sartaj Aziz of Pakistan and Ajit Doval of India, he said if Pakistan was so keen on raising the Kashmir issue, why didn’t it do so at Ufa where the decision on the NSA-level talks was taken.
“They should have fixed the agenda beforehand. Kashmir was never on the talks agenda,” he said, adding that the possibility of any future dialogue will depend on Pakistan.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed expressed disappointment over cancellation of the talks but hoped the two neighbours will re-engage soon in a meaningful dialogue, while his predecessor Farooq Abdullah told media persons in Jammu that the two countries can have talks in a neutral venue.
On the other hand, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha said India should not engage with Pakistan till it was “absolutely certain” about the outcome.
Sinha, a former external affairs minister, told news channel CNN-IBN that not talking to Pakistan will not lead to war.
Meanwhile, Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav told reporters in Patna that cancellation of the NSA-level talks reflected failure of “our foreign policy”, while Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi alleged that the government’s approach lacked focus and provided Pakistan an opportunity to wriggle out of discussing the serious issue of terrorism.
“It is unfortunate that the government, due to its less preparation and its not taking concrete steps, allowed Pakistan to act on its designs and fell prey. It (the government) should have been alert. They should have had prior information and should have prepared a plan so that Pakistan does not succeed,” Singhvi said.
He also slammed Pakistan and said the country wants to run away from all issues relating to terrorism and does not want exchange of information particularly on those serious matters on which it can be cornered.
The August 23-24 NSA talks between India and Pakistan were finally called off on Saturday, with both sides sticking to their positions – India on keeping only terrorism on the agenda and no meeting with Kashmir separatist leaders and Pakistan pressing for discussiong Kashmir too and insisting on meeting the leaders.
In a late night statement on Saturday, the Pakistan Foreign Office said it has “come to the conclusion that the NSA talks would not serve any purpose if conducted on the basis of the two conditions” laid down by India.
The Pakistan High Commission had invited Hurriyat leaders for a reception on 23 August and Aziz had planned to separately meet Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.