Reaching out to the BJP to explain the governments position on talks with Pakistan in the wake of the LoC killings,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the top BJP brass for a meeting on Wednesday evening.
BJP parliamentary party chairman L K Advani,party president Rajnath Singh and Leaders of Opposition in both Houses Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley are slated to attend the meeting. Also present will be External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.
Singhs decision comes amid calls from the BJP Tuesday to cancel his proposed meeting with Pakistans new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Singh-Sharif meeting is expected end-September on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
Sources said Singh,with his aides,will seek to underline the importance of remaining engaged with Pakistan. He is also expected to make the point that while infiltration attempts have increased,levels of violence have come down along the LoC. The PM will look to assure the BJP leaders that talks will progress only on the condition that Islamabad takes credible action on the terror front.
Singh,sources said,also wants to clear the air on whats been conveyed as preconditions for resuming the dialogue process. The government is said to be quite upset by Pak officials claiming that resumption of dialogue was not predicated on progress on the 26/11 trial.
In fact,Singh is likely to tell the BJP that he had made it clear to Shahryar Khan who had come as Sharifs special emissary that Pakistan needs to show serious progress on curbing terror directed against India for the peace process to move forward.
Further,its learnt that the government has decided to sit on Pakistans proposal for resuming the stalled dialogue process through talks on the Tulbul navigation project. That process was moving fast with the Ministry of External Affairs formally asking both the Water Resources Ministry and the Defence Ministry for their convenience on dates suggested by Pakistan for the next round of talks on the Tulbul navigation project and Sir Creek.
Pakistan had suggested two sets of dates for each: the first option for Tulbul was as early as August 27-28 and the second in September. As for Sir Creek,one option was September 16-17,the next in October. However,sources said,chances of starting talks this month are now remote.
In the range of meetings that took place at the highest levels today,sources said,the LoC incident was seen along with the attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad where the bombers were found to be Pakistanis.
As a result,the consensus was that a strong message had to be conveyed to Pakistan that talks and terror cannot go on simultaneously. However,the proposed meeting between Singh and Sharif around September 28-29 in New York is not off the agenda yet with officials saying it was too early to take a call on the issue.
There was also a view that India should ask for talks on issues directly addressing its concerns,especially terrorism and cross-LoC violence. Here,the options would be Home Secretary-level talks as well as Defence Secretary talks,which New Delhi has to host in this round. In fact,internal consultations had begun in the past week to come up with dates that Indian can propose.
But this,sources said,appeared difficult following strident opposition in Parliament and also the strong statement from Congress president Sonia Gandhi that the LoC incident was a blatant act of deceit.