Hitting out at Pakistan a day after it called off the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said if Pakistan was so keen on raising the Kashmir issue, why didn’t it do so during talks in Ufa even as the Modi government came under fire from Congress for its “ham-handed” handling of the situation.
Accusing Pakistan of deviating from the agenda agreed in Ufa between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, Singh also made it clear that the possibility of any future dialogue will depend on the neighbour.
On Pakistan’s claim that Kashmir was the main agenda, the Home Minister said, “Why didn’t Pakistan raise the Kashmir issue in Ufa in Russia when the two Prime Ministers met last month? Why was it not decided earlier that it would be part of NSA-level talks? It was never an issue on agenda.”
Describing the cancellation of talks as unfortunate, he however, underlined that India stands for dialogue and cordial relationship with Pakistan. “The cancellation of NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan is unfortunate. India is in favour of dialogue,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function here. Pakistan last night called off the talks in Delhi between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz, hours after India made it clear that discussions on Kashmir and a meeting with separatists will not be acceptable to it.
Congress lashed out at government’s “ham handling” of talks and accused it of playing into Pakistan’s hands, claiming that India has lost out on all the gains of last 10 years. “Unfortunately, the NDA government has played into Pakistan’s hands by being imprecise, by being unprepared, by lacking focus, by being ad hoc, by not doing sufficient hard-nosed groundwork, good old-fashioned diplomacy and preparation. “We are very sad that all the gains of the last 10-odd years on Indo-Pak settlement of atleast some issues, are given a setback by such aborted talks. No such opportunity should have been given to Pakistan to wriggle out of as serious an issue as terror,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
“We deprecate the ham-handed manner in which several aspectshave been handled by the government,” he said.