NEW DELHI: Pakistani media has blamed India for the cancellation of first-ever National Security Adviser-level talks, which were to take place today and tomorrow.
On Saturday night, Pakistan had announced that it could not meet the two terms India said were non-negotiable – that Kashmir will not be part of the agenda of the talks, and that Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz would not meet Kashmiri separatists in Delhi.
External Affairs minister Ms Swaraj said the contours of talks decided at a meeting in Russia’s Ufa last month was clearly restricted to terrorism. But the Pakistan government said the talks would not “serve any purpose, if conducted on the basis of the two conditions laid down by the Minister.”
In Pakistan, all leading newspapers carried the story on the front page, highlighting the Indian “pre-conditions” which, they claimed, led to the breakdown of talks.
The front page headline of Dawn said, “NSAs’ talks cancelled over Indian conditions”.
“While it was obvious that neither side wanted to be seen to officially call off talks, it was also patently clear that neither side was willing to do much to rescue them in Delhi,” the daily said.
India’s angry reaction “is perhaps a sign of Modi’s (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) true intentions,” it said. “He does not really want dialogue with Pakistan, but does not want to be seen rejecting talks outright in front of the international community.”
“Yet, for all the Indian obstinacy, there have been some serious errors by the government in Pakistan,” the report added.
Under the headline “No talks with pre-conditions, Pakistan tells India” the News International reported, “Without waiting to burn the midnight oil and succumbing to ‘orders’ from New Delhi, Pakistan responded to the ‘hilarious’ Indian directive…”
The Express Tribune termed the cancellation of talks as a blow to the efforts of normalisation of India-Pakistan ties. “India’s intransigence is to blame,” it said.
Calling the Pakistani decision “unfortunate,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said, “India did not set any preconditions… We only reiterated that Pakistan respect the spirit of the Simla & Ufa Agreements, to which it was already committed.”