Hours before the arrival of Pakistan's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz in India to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday made it abundantly clear that India will not accept any third party in the discussions between the two nuclear-enabled nations on rising incidents of border skirmishes and terror attacks.
"India will not accept Hurriyat as the third party in the Indo-Pak talks. If the Pakistan NSA wants to come to India, we will welcome him. But the talks will only be on terrorism and terrorism alone. There is no scope for expansion of agenda," Swaraj told reporters in the national capital.
"Sartaj Aziz should come if he agrees with India on the points made by us. India is not putting any pre-conditions but we are only reminding Pakistan there will be no talks on Kashmir now. It will be only on terror," she said.
As time runs out between the two nations, the talks are in jeopardy as Pakistan has bluntly told India that it will go ahead with its meeting with Hurriyat. Indian government last week put Hurriyat's top leaders under house arrest to stop them meeting Aziz in Delhi when he arrives for talks.
"Terror and talks can't happen but talk on terror should happen," Swaraj said, and added that Pakistan should respect the Shimla agreement in which it was decided that no third party will ne involved in the Indo-Pak talks.
Talks will be between countries, no room for third parties: EAM Sushma Swaraj pic.twitter.com/BDZ2LcA8GT— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2015
Swaraj said that India wrote to Pakistan on July 23 informing them that there will be NSA talks on August 23 in India. "Pakistan was given a month's notice". Islamabad, she said, responded on August 14, 22 days after India reached out to them, with its own agenda.
Aziz, who is scheduled to travel to New Delhi tomorrow for talks with Doval, told a press conference in Islamabad today that he is ready to travel to India as per schedule but without any pre-conditions.
He was sharply critical of the Indian government for its insistence that he should not meet Kashmiri separatist leaders while in New Delhi and said this was akin to controlling the guest list for a reception being held for him at the Pakistan High Commission.
Woh dossier denge,hum zinda aadmi denge: EAM Sushma Swaraj pic.twitter.com/kUstgPgX4z— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2015
"Cancellation (of the talks) is yet to be confirmed from either side. Therefore, we are ready to go as per schedule without any pre-condition," Aziz said.
Given that there is no likelihood of India changing its stand that separatist Hurriyat had no role in Indo-Pak talks, the possibility of NSAs meeting is remote.
Swaraj said India will go ahead with the talks only if Pakistan assured us by tonight that no third party will be involved and that the talks will only be on terror. (With PTI inputs)