Wrangling over Hurriyat puts talks in doubt

Stalemate over meeting of Hurriyat leaders with Pak. NSA

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:32 pm IST

Published - August 21, 2015 11:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

A view of the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, the proposed venue for the NSA-level talks.

A view of the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, the proposed venue for the NSA-level talks.

After a day of exchanging strongly worded statements, India and Pakistan on Friday all but called off talks between National Security Advisers Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz, with India blaming a “force” in Pakistan for “sabotaging” the talks.

In a late-night response, Pakistan accused India of “reneging” on commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Ufa talks with his counterpart Nawaz Sharif. At the end of the day the deadlock over whether Mr. Aziz would meet Hurriyat leaders remained, as Pakistan said it would go ahead with the plans to meet Kashmiri separatists when Mr. Aziz comes to Delhi, while India said the meeting was unacceptable.

However, both sides insisted that they were willing to go ahead with the NSA meetings if their respective conditions were met, and Pakistani officials in Islamabad and Delhi said they were “making all arrangements” for the visit. As a result, if Mr. Aziz does go ahead with his visit to Delhi, the stage is set for a showdown, with officials in New Delhi threatening to “ensure” there is no meeting with the Hurriyat leaders “by detaining them at the airport if necessary.”

Acknowledging that the wide divergences and bad blood evident in the exchanges indicated the talks would “make no sense” at this point, however, a senior Pakistani official said, “We need time to reflect and then see how to re-engage.”

The day began with Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan handing over a statement from > India clearly “advising” Pakistan to call off the proposed meeting with the Hurriyat leadership at a reception called by the High Commission on Sunday August 23rd “as it would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism”.

Hours later, after a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz and other senior officials, Pakistan issued its response, handed over by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhury to Mr. Raghavan saying >it would not be possible for Pakistan to accept the advice ,” and saw no reason to depart from “established past practice” of meeting the separatists during high-profile visits.

India hit back with the strongest language of the day in a public statement issued by the MEA that accused Pakistan of trying to “evade its commitment at Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism” with the “provocative” act of inviting the Hurriyat.

The statement was finalised at a late-evening meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, all of whom were in Jaipur for a conference with Pacific Island nations.

In a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan’s military leadership, India also asked why Islamabad had chosen to deviate from the Ufa agreement. “The people of both countries can legitimately ask today, what is the force that compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation,” the MEA statement said.

A senior official said that the government now feels “hurt” that Mr. Modi’s efforts to engage Pakistan “had come to naught.” “It is abundantly clear that the second Sharif [Army Chief General Raheel Sharif] wants to ensure that the talks between the first Sharif [PM Nawaz Sharif] and PM Modi at Ufa run aground,” the official told The Hindu.

In a departure from past statements on the subject, India drew a link between Pakistan and the terror attack in Udhampur and capture of Pakistani national Naved, saying that the issue “would have naturally come up in the NSA-level talks on terrorism, to Pakistan's discomfort.”

The government also rejected the Pakistani statement that the PMs had agreed at Ufa that “all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and other disputes, as well as, terrorism issues and other CBMs will be discussed between the two countries.” Instead the government said “all issues of terrorism” was the only item on the agreed agenda.

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