Islamabad: Pakistan, in a statement made on Saturday, decided to call off the NSA talks with India saying it has “come to the conclusion that the NSA talks would not serve any purpose if conducted on the basis of the conditions” put forth by India.
Putting a stop to the uncertainty over the talks, scheduled to be held between the National Security Advisors of India, Ajit Doval, and Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz, on August 23-24, the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement that talks held on the two conditions laid down by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would not serve any purpose. It accused Swaraj of “restricting the agenda” of the talks to only two items: creating an atmosphere free from terrorism and tranquility on the Line of Control.
Pakistan said that terrorism was always simultaneously discussed with other issues according to their composite dialogues. “It is not reasonable for India to now assume the right to decide unilaterally that from now onward, other issues will be discussed after terrorism has been discussed and eliminated.”
Swaraj had said that Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz was welcome to come for the August 23-24 parley, but he has to stick to the Ufa agenda to discuss only terrorism and the Kashmiri separatists have no place in the dialogue.
The Pakistan Foreign Office said that if the only purpose of the NSA talks was to discuss terrorism, “then instead of improving the prospects of peace it will only intensify the blame game and further vitiate the atmosphere”.
It said it had proposed that besides discussing terrorism, the modalities and possible time schedule for other outstanding issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek, also be discussed “in keeping with the Ufa statement”.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have agreed to set up a joint border “reaction force” to counter terrorism, Iranian state media reported.
“We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,” Rohani was quoted as saying on April 22 during a joint press conference with Khan, who was officially welcomed in the Iranian capital earlier in the day.
The announcement comes following tensions between the two countries who have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.
“Pakistan will not allow any militant group to operate” from its soil, Khan said at the press conference while adding that the problem of terrorism was “increasing differences” between both countries.
“So it was very important for me to come here and come with our security chief that we resolve this issue,” Khan said.
Citing a militant attack on Pakistani security forces in Baluchistan on April 18, he said, Pakistan’s security chief will be meeting his Iranian counterpart on April 22 to discuss how both countries can cooperate in not allowing their soil to be used by militant groups.
Stressing that “no third country” could harm Iran-Pakistan ties, an apparent reference to the United States, Rohani said Tehran was ready to boost trade and business ties with Islamabad.
For his part, Khan said his visit to Tehran aimed to “find ways to increase trade and cooperation…in energy and other areas,” noting that two-way trade was “very limited.”
Khan arrived in Iran on April 21 on his first official visit to the Islamic republic for talks set to focus on strengthening bilateral ties, “fighting terrorism, and safeguarding borders,” Iranian state media reported.
The two countries have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.
The two-day trip started with a stopover in the holy city of Mashhad, where Khan visited the shrine of Imam Reza, who is revered by Shi’ite Muslims.
The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on April 20 that 15 gunmen wearing military uniforms ambushed a bus in southwestern Balochistan Province on April 18, killing 14 Pakistani Army personnel.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a letter to the Iranian government that the assailants came from an alliance of three Baluch terrorist organizations based in Iran.
Qureshi told reporters that Khan would take up the matter with Iranian authorities.
Earlier this year, Iran called on Pakistan to take action against a militant group behind a deadly attack on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).