ISLAMABAD: New Delhi has proposed a meeting of the National Security Advisers (NSAs) on Aug 23 for discussing the terrorist threat faced by India and Pakistan.
A Pakistani diplomat confirmed to Dawn that India had proposed the date, but said that Islamabad had yet to confirm the availability of Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, for the meeting.
India intends to hold the meeting in New Delhi.
Discussion on terror threat faced by both countries slated in New Delhi for 23rd
It appears difficult for Pakistan to walk away from the meeting, but according to a highly placed source options were being weighed.
It is felt that Pakistan is disadvantageously placed in this format of talks on terrorism.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi had in their meeting at Ufa (Russia) agreed that a meeting of the NSAs would be convened to “discuss all issues connected to terrorism”.
The invitation for dialogue on terrorism comes in the shadow of the July 27 militant attack in Gurdaspur, which Indian leaders have blamed on Pakistan.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh had later, while speaking in parliament, warned of a “befitting reply”. Indian media has said that Delhi is trying to put the Gurdaspur attack on the agenda of the proposed meeting.
India is further planning to raise the issue of trial of alleged Mumbai plotters by a Pakistani court and the bail for Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the principal accused in the case.
Pakistan would, meanwhile, want to flag its concerns about Indian involvement in terrorism in Karachi, Balochistan and tribal areas.
India has long been accused of fuelling insurgency in Balochistan and unrest in Karachi. Indian intelligence agency RAW is also reportedly patronising militant groups that have been fighting Pakistan Army in tribal areas.
Mr Aziz, in a written statement in parliament on Friday, said the PM during his speech at the UN next month would speak about Indian involvement in Pakistan.
“I think the prime minister is certainly going to use the forum of the UNGA to highlight RAW’s activities in the country,” he had said.
Our Correspondent adds from New Delhi: Unnamed government sources in Delhi were quoted by media as saying that the two sides are working towards a meeting in the latter half of August.
“Amid a war of words between India and Pakistan over the Gurdaspur attack, New Delhi and Islamabad are working towards setting up a meeting of national security advisers in the later half of August,” the Indian Express said on Saturday.
A consideration is that the talks take place after the Indian parliament’s monsoon session, so that the Modi government is not hemmed in by the opposition questioning his administration’s “overtures” towards Pakistan, the paper said.
Significantly, the paper said, India had not blamed Pakistan directly for Gurdaspur attack and gave a more nuanced explanation.
“While India has not directly blamed Pakistan” for the attack, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said a “preliminary analysis of GPS data” (found in possession of the three gunmen) indicates that they had infiltrated “from Pakistan” through the area near Tash in Gurdaspur, where the Ravi enters Pakistan.
“Security forces at the border are alert, but the difficult terrain coupled with recent heavy rain, resulting in excess flow in rivers and canals along the border, could have been a factor in this group sneaking into Punjab,” Mr Singh had said.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2015