Ignoring India’s offer to hold talks on cross-border terrorism, Pakistan on Friday invited Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to Islamabad by the end of this month to discuss Kashmir dispute “as per the UN Security Council Resolutions”. Upping the ante, it called for an immediate end to “human rights violations in Kashmir” and sought permission for Pakistani doctors and paramedics to travel to the state.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman said its Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry had given a reply to Jaishankar’s proposal for talks on cross-border terror. The reply was handed over to Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambwale by Chaudhry in Islamabad. The spokesperson said the letter invites the Indian Foreign Secretary to visit “Islamabad by the end of this month to discuss the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, with a view to finding a fair and just solution, as per the United Nations Security Council resolutions and aspirations” of the people of the state.
Pakistan has also called for “putting an immediate end to the human rights violations against the innocent people” of Jammu and Kashmir and for providing medical facilities to the injured, “including the permission for doctors and paramedics to travel.” Earlier, Pakistan had on Monday invited India for talks on Kashmir, saying it is the “international obligation” of both the countries to resolve the issue.
However, India on Wednesday rejected Pakistan’s proposal to hold Foreign Secretary-level talks on Kashmir and insisted that discussions should be held on “aspects related to cross- border terrorism which are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Jaishankar, while expressing willingness to travel to Islamabad to discuss cross-border terorism, had maintained that Pakistan has no locus standi in addressing any aspect of the situation in J&K, which is an internal matter of India, except to put an end to cross-border terrorism and infiltration.
On Thursday, India set certain conditions for talks, asserting that discussions should focus on cessation of terrorist activities in J&K and ending incitement to violence and terror in the Valley. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday that Jaishankar had conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart that he accepts his invitation to visit Islamabad but made it clear the discussions should focus first on the pressing aspects of the J&K situation flagged by him.
“In a letter dated August 16, Foreign Secretary has first of all underlined that Pakistan’s self-serving allegations made in their communication are rejected in their entirety by the Government of India. Pakistan has no locus standi in respect of J&K, which is an integral part of our nation,” said Swarup.
Deliberations should also focus on denying safe haven, shelters and support to terrorists in Pakistan who have escaped Indian law, Jaishankar said in his letter. “The ball is in Pakistan’s court now. They had made an offer, We have responded to the offer. It is up to them to carry it forward,” said Swarup.
The response also conveyed that detaining and prosecuting internationally recognised Pakistani terrorist leaders who have been publicly active in exhorting and supporting such violence in that state should be part of the talks besides closing down terrorist training camps, Swarup added.
The Foreign Secretary said he looked forward to discussing with his Pakistani counterpart the “earliest possible vacation of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the Indian state of J&K”. In his letter, the Foreign Secretary also underlined the importance of bringing to justice all those guilty in Pakistan for the attacks in Mumbai and at Pathankot airbase.
“He said that his visit should provide the opportunity to receive a briefing from Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary on progress in this regard,” said Swarup. India has also maintained that the talks between the two countries must be held as per the framework of the Simla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of February 1999.
“The world is aware that Pakistan has a long history of violence and terrorism against India, as also in the broader region,” the MEA spokesman had said, adding “The Indian state of J&K has been its particular target.” He had said that the interference began with the government of Pakistan sending armed raiders into J&K in 1947 and again in 1965.
“More than three decades later, displaying a similar attitude, military personnel were infiltrated across the Line of Control in Kargil in 1999. This approach to India was reflected in support for terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir that continues to the present day.
“These acts were initially denied by the Government of Pakistan and attributed to local population, only to be admitted later by Pakistan’s leaders who directed and organised such cross-border attacks on India, and assaults on the local people,” the MEA spokesman had added.
Referring to the Lahore Declaration of February 1999, he had said then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had reiterated Pakistan’s determination to implement the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit. Swarup had also talked about the assurance given by then President Pervez Musharraf in January 2004 that Pakistan government will not permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism against India.