‘NSAs could have met in New York but Islamabad didn’t seem keen’

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) After the aborted NSA-level talks in New Delhi, there was a chance of the Indian and Pakistani National Security Advisors holding a meeting in New York last month, but India “got a sense” the other side wasn’t open to the idea, said official sources on Tuesday.

India is still keen to continue on the lines of the agreement arrived at between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia, in July, and would have been open to NSA talks on terrorism in New York, said the source.

The August 23 talks between India’s NSA Ajit Doval and Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz was called off after India stressed that the talks agenda should stick to what had been agreed upon at Ufa – that the two NSAs would discuss terrorism, but Pakistan insisted on dragging in the Kashmir issue and include the Kashmiri separatists in the agenda.

India feels that despite the holding of talks between their border forces – the Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers – both sides have been “unable to progress on the other elements” of the agreement at Ufa, which included NSA talks on terrorism, a meeting between their Directors General of Military Operations among others.

There was a chance of the two NSAs holding a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and India “would have been open” to the idea. But “our sense was they weren’t that open and that’s why it didn’t happen”, the source added.

India feels that the two countries need to have a “serious discussion on terrorism”, especially at the level of NSAs.

It also feels that despite the positive outcome of the Ufa meeting, the domestic politics in Pakistan took the Ufa agreement to a “different direction” due to the involvement of “non elected players”, in a tacit reference to Pakistan’s army.

India also feels that Pakistan has to recognise that “terror cannot be an instrument of statecraft” and that terror attacks like in Gurdaspur and Udhampur earlier this year “have a cost”.

For the two countries to meet and begin talks there has to be “some basis of interaction” and the minimum has to be that “one country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressuring the other”, said the source.

After the promising Ufa talks of July 10, the atmosphere between the two neighbours took a nosedive with continuing firing on the border, which culminated in the NSA talks being called off after Pakistan insisted on treating it like a resumed dialogue, by including Kashmir, and other elements of discord.

In New York, Modi and Sharif did not talk, but just waved to each other across the room during a summit on UN peacekeeping nations called by the US.

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