ISLAMABAD – Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday said that talks with India cannot take place without addressing the long-standing issue of Jammu Kashmir.
Talking to Voice of America, the adviser said that Indian attempts to sideline the issue of Jammu Kashmir was unrealistic. According to the US media, tensions in the region have been rising since last week when India’s Ministry of External Affairs abruptly called off the long-awaited secretary-level meeting with Pakistan.
Sartaj said that Islamabad offered talks to New Delhi in a good faith, adding that holding a dialogue without addressing the Kashmir issue was unacceptable to Pakistan. "If they make conditions [that] are unrealistic, then of course it will require more time and more effort [to hold dialogue],” he said.
The foreign affairs secretaries of Pakistan and India were scheduled to meet on August 28 in Islamabad, but the Indian government canceled the visit of its External Affairs secretary to Islamabad after Pakistan's Ambassador Abdul Basit met with Kashmiri leaders in New Delhi.
“All we are doing is appealing to the international community that dialogue between Pakistan and India is necessary for peace in the region, and therefore they should take notice and share our disappointment that these talks have been suspended on very flimsy grounds,” the adviser said.
Sartaj said that Pakistani officials have met with leaders from the Indian portion of the disputed state in the past and India has not objected until now. He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shown a determination to maintain the momentum to achieve his primary goal of stabilizing Pakistan economically.
He said that Prime Minister Nawaz even accepted an invitation to attend Modi's inauguration, the first Pakistani leader to do so. The American media reported that both Pakistan and India have made significant progress in improving bilateral trade, economic and cultural ties in recent years.