Talks only on Islamabad vacating PoK, stopping terror: India

In a letter to his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar says terrorism emanating from Pakistan’s territory is India’s core concern.

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:11 am IST

Published - August 25, 2016 05:31 pm IST - New Delhi

In this April 27, 2016 file picture, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is seen with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry (in green tie) in New Delhi.  Photo: V. Sudershan

In this April 27, 2016 file picture, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is seen with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry (in green tie) in New Delhi. Photo: V. Sudershan

In a hardening stand on talks, New Delhi has sent another letter to Islamabad, outlining the need for talks on battling terror emanating from Pakistan that targets “not just India, but other countries in the region”.

The letter sent by Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar, in reply to a letter from Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhury dated August 19, was delivered on August 23 to the Pakistani Foreign Office, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed on Thursday.

The two had exchanged letters on August 15-16 as well, over Pakistan’s original offer of Foreign Secretary level talks on the “Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions”.

In the latest missive, Mr. Jaishankar is understood to have repeated that > India is prepared to speak to Pakistan only about terrorism issues, i ncluding the investigation into the Pathankot airbase attack in January 2016 and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks in 2008, with the addition of a new demand that Pakistan vacate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) immediately.

Ignoring the contents of Mr. Chaudhury's letter, that also called for permission for UN representatives, and international doctors and paramedics to be allowed to travel to Jammu and Kashmir to treat those injured in the past month, Mr. Jaishankar reportedly indicated that the only part of Jammu and Kashmir India wishes to discuss is the part occupied by Pakistan.

Sharp reaction to UNHRC's remarks

Last week, India responded sharply to a suggestion from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein seeking a visit to Kashmir. “We will continue to encourage the international community to uphold promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the parts of J&K under illegal occupation of Pakistan,” the MEA said in its reply.

Mr. Jaishankar’s reference in his letter to “other countries of the region” affected also indicates a new development in India’s line on dealing with Pakistan. Confirming that the decision to engage other neighbours like Bangladesh an d >Afghanistan, who have also complained about attacks from terror groups in Pakistan , is a deliberate one, an official told The Hindu t o “look closely” at what the governments in other SAARC countries had said.

Engaging 'other neighbours'

Bangladesh, angry over the > Dhaka café attack and others that it links to Pakistani support, has refused to send high level officials to any of the SAARC related events in Pakistan.

In a visit to Delhi this month, Bangladesh Interior minister Hassanul Haq Inu squarely blamed Pakistani groups for the attacks, and is understood to have discussed these with Indian officials.

Afghanistan’s President Ghani has also said Wednesday’s terror attack on the American University in Kabul where 13 people, including teachers and students, were killed, was “organised” in Pakistan, and spoke via video conference with Prime Minister on need to “protect peace, overcome terror and extremism and work for prosperity of our nations.”

Despite both India and Pakistan mentioning talks in their respective letters that have followed Mr. Modi’s comments against Pakistan’s role in terrorism in Kashmir, and human rights violations in PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan, officials on both sides told The Hindu that talks seemed “very unlikely” at present.

The last round of Foreign Secretary level talks that were announced just before > Mr. Modi’s visit to Lahore in December 2015 , were cancelled after the > Pathankot attacks . Since then, although Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz met in Kathmandu, and both Foreign Secretaries met in Delhi on the sidelines of multilateral events, there has been no movement.

The lone channel of communication between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Nasir Janjua, who spoke regularly until March 2016, has gone silent after Pakistan made it clear it wouldn’t cooperate on the Pathankot investigations, and wouldn’t allow an National Investigation Agency team to visit Pakistan, officials said.

With the flurry of communiqués between Delhi and Islamabad getting more heated, it is unclear now whether the SAARC summit will go ahead as planned in mid-November, as New Delhi refused to confirm where Mr. Modi will still travel to Islamabad for the summit, which will be cancelled if any head of state or head of government is unable to attend.

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