NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: The collapse of planned peace talks between India and Pakistan hours before they were to start on Sunday has raised questions about mutual mistrust.
This is the second time the nuclear-armed neighbours have cancelled talks since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May last year, with both sides choosing to engage in a war of words ahead of the planned two-day meeting of their top security advisers.
Since Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, agreed on the talks in Russia last month, ceasefire violations have increased. Analysts fear they may escalate.
In the now-cancelled talks, India wanted to only discuss terrorism-related issues and objected to Pakistan’s intentions of meeting with Kashmiri leaders. Pakistan wanted a wider agenda.
Pakistani National Defence University professor Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema says calling off the talks was not good for regional peace, and that Kashmir will always be on the agenda of any India-Pakistan talks.
Aakar Patel, a long-time Modi observer and the new head of Amnesty International in India, said New Delhi’s position had been weakened.
“How will not talking solve this?” he wrote in the Times of India. “If we are serious about getting something out of them, we have to engage with them.”
Pakistan’s decision to pull out followed Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s ultimatum to stick to a terrorism-related agenda.
Foreign Office said late Saturday Pakistan could not accept India’s “preconditions” for the talks.
“We have come to the conclusion that the proposed NSA-level talks between the two countries would not serve any purpose, if conducted on the basis of the two conditions laid down by the minister,” it said in a statement.
Sartaj Aziz said Islamabad was to handover three dossiers to India regarding direct involvement of its spy agency in terrorism in Pakistan.
Addressing a media briefing here, Aziz waved three dossiers before the journalists and said: “These are the dossiers I wanted to handover to India on RAW’s involvement in Pakistan.”
“If I do not get this opportunity on 24 August, I hope I will get a chance to hand them over to Mr. Doval in New York next month, if he accompanies Prime Minister Modi for the UN General Assembly,” he said.
The national security advisor also hinted at presenting the dossiers to the UN General Secretary Ban-ki Moon.
Officials said Sunday that the NSA level talks are now uncertain amid a row over disputed Kashmir. – Samaa/Agencies