Pakistan gearing up to invite India for talks on Kashmir, asserts Sartaj Aziz

Aziz said even the international community was getting edgy about the grim situation in Kashmir. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Islamabad, Pakistan Aug 12, 2016, 03.27 PM (IST)
Pakistan's foreign policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz today said that Pakistan would soon write to India and invite it for a dialogue on the Kashmir issue.

Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad that during an Envoys Conference convened this week to deliberate on major foreign policy challenges of Pakistan the "envoys had spent considerable time on the grim situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and Indian brutalities after July 8." 

It was emphasised that Pakistan would continue to extend full diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris movement for self-determination, and also take certain diplomatic initiatives.

"One proposal was that since the comprehensive dialogue was not happening, Pakistan should invite India for a dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, because the situation there has deteriorated so much that we need to have a dialogue on this issue. Our foreign secretary would formally be writing to his counterpart in this regard, telling him that the Kashmir issue had reached such a stage that an exclusive dialogue on it had become un avoidable," Aziz said.

Aziz's offer comes two days after India's home minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that India was willing to discuss only Pakistani Kashmir with Pakistan, and the question of discussing Indian held Kashmir with Islamabad did not arise.

Replying to a reporter who said Indian ministers keep saying there is "no issue" in Jammu and Kashmir, Aziz said:

"If they (India) are saying that there is no issue, then why is all this happening over there on the ground? Secondly, why have you kept a force of 600,000 / 700,000 there? Why are all local leaders under detention, almost continuously? There is a media blackout, and no one from outside can get in to probe the situation. So naturally, there is a crisis, and there is a need to discuss it. So, if the Comprehensive Dialogue will take time to arrange, or is not happening, at least if you are ready to talk on the Kashmir issue, we are ready to talk also," he said.

He said even the international community was getting edgy about the grim situation in Indian Kashmir

"This is a very serious situation. Most of the Kashmiri leaders are under arrest. Apprehensions of the international community are growing about this, and hopefully India will start feeling this pressure. At the same time, we have started a diplomatic offensive in the last five weeks, and that will continue to accelerate until India agrees to either discuss this issue or address it," he said.

Aziz said a dossier was being prepared on the basis of the confessions of arrested Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadev who was being interrogated by security agencies.

"On the first issue of Kulbhushan (Yadev), a lot of detailed investigations are going on, because he was not alone. He had a network which he was running. So until we can trace out all the links through which he was operating, saying anything about it prematurely would defeat our goal of defeating the network and bringing it under our control. We are trying to further beef up the dossier that we had handed over earlier, so that we can share it at the upcoming General Assembly meeting in September. But work is still going on that," he said.

He said there were indications that the Jamaatul Ahrar, which had claimed responsibility for the recent Quetta blast, was indirectly supported by Afghan spy agency NDS and Indian intelligence agency RAW.

"It has just been three days since the Quetta attack, but the signals that are coming are pointing at a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group in Afghanistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, which has claimed responsibility. In the past it has been said several times that this group has some indirect support from the NDS (Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security). And RAW has some connections with NDS. But how much involvement there is in this Quetta attack, we cannot say yet. However, the overall perception is that RAW may be indirectly involved, through NDS, and through the Tehreek-e Taliban group. We do not want to point fingers on this without solid proof, but there are fears that all this happened. So as the investigation moves forward, things will get clear," he said.

He said efforts were underway to improve coordination between the NDS and Pakistan's prime intelligence agency ISI in order to prevent such attacks in the future.

"Naturally, when we are talking with Afghanistan, we are trying to improve links and interaction between NDS and ISI (Pakistan's prime intelligence agency) , so that we are able to pinpoint such incidents in the future. We have made mutual commitments that we will not allow our soil to be used against them, and they will not allow their soil to be used against us. The monitoring for this commitment is only possible if both intelligence agencies have interactions at different level, at the border level, as well as a higher level. This is our aim, and God willing we are moving towards it," he said.

Aziz said there is positive progress on the issue of Pakistan's membership for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).