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Pakistan cancelled talks, not India, says Rajnath Singh

Cancellation of NSA talks by Pakistan is "unfortunate", Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here today and made it clear that the possibility of any future dialogue will depend on the neighbour.

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A day after the cancellation of the NSA-level talks, India and Pakistan played the blame game on Sunday. Home Minister Rajnath Singh held Islamabad “responsible” for deviating from the Ufa agenda, while Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif accused New Delhi of “sabotaging” the talks with its “fanatic approach”.

“It is Pakistan which has cancelled the talks and not India,” said Singh, replying to questions on the sidelines of an event at Sanskrit Sansthan in Lucknow. “Why didn’t Pakistan raise the Kashmir issue in Ufa in Russia when the two Prime Ministers met last month? Why was it not decided earlier that it would be part of NSA-level talks? It was never an issue on the agenda,” he said.

But speaking to CNN-IBN, Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said the agreement reached in Ufa was interpreted differently by both the countries. “We wanted modalities of Kashmir to be discussed. Holding talks on Kashmir will reduce tension. Ufa objective was to reduce tension, so we need to discuss Kashmir, not terror,” he said.

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Aziz, however, said the talks between the Director Generals of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers were on track. “The talks between DG Rangers and DG BSF will go ahead as planned on September 6,” he said.

On a possible meeting between the two Prime Ministers in New York, Aziz said: “Pakistan won’t propose talks in New York, it’s now up to India to propose talks. Dialogue between the two countries was beginning, but this was unfortunate.”

Singh also termed the cancellation of talks as “unfortunate”, adding that India “is in favour of dialogue”. “But Pakistan should not have deviated from the agenda decided during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” he said.

Singh said Pakistan’s insistence on meeting separatist leaders showed that it was not serious about the talks. Asked about the possibility of any dialogue in the future, Singh replied, “go and ask Pakistan, how can I reply to it.” He added, “As far as India’s intention is concerned, I want to make it clear that it is in favour of having good and cordial relationship with its neighbour.”

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In Islamabad, Radio Pakistan quoted Asif as saying that the “negative attitude of the Modi government was to disrupt peace in the region”.

“India sabotaged the Pak-India talks scheduled to be held in New Delhi today due to its fanatic approach,” he said. Stating that Islamabad was “serious” about the talks, the “pre-conditions put by India… were not acceptable to Pakistan”.

Asif also said that Pakistan’s armed forces were fully capable of protecting the country’s frontiers. He said Indian forces were violating the Line of Control and working boundary just to keep the Pakistani armed forces busy.

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Meanwhile, replying to a question on the dossier prepared by New Delhi as evidence of Dawood Ibrahim’s presence in Pakistan, Aziz said, “If we are given (the dossier), we will investigate.”

His answer on Lashkar commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi’s involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks was similar. “If India gives us the voice samples, we will match it with his voice,” said Aziz.

Asked about the possibility of back channel talks, Aziz said back channels would not work unless there are front channels.

— With PTI, Islamabad, Lucknow

First published on: 24-08-2015 at 00:00 IST
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