Adviser to PM on national security and foreign affairs says India should not have called off foreign secy level talks with Pakistan
Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Saturday said that the meeting between Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah in New Delhi last month ahead of Pakistan-India foreign secretary-level was “ill-timed”, the Indian media reported Saturday.
“The timing of the meeting between Pakistan high commissioner and Hurriyat leaders was not right and it could have been avoided. The newly-elected leaders of both the countries missed an opportunity of starting a dialogue,” said Aziz during the exclusive interaction on the sidelines of United Nations (UN) General Assembly (GA) session in New York.
Insisting that Pakistan cannot ignore Hurriyat, Aziz said, “The talks should not have been cancelled as the issue was not that big. Dialogue with Hurriyat leaders has been a regular practice for the past 20 to30 years.”
“We are upset after India cancelled the talks. Talks are the only way forward for us. Now, the ball is in India’s court to come up with a date,” Aziz reportedly said.
A week prior to the scheduled meeting between Indo-Pak foreign secretaries, India called off the bilateral talks following criticism of Pakistani high commissioner’s meeting with Hurriyat leader Shah.
AZIZ RESPONDS TO MODI:
Aziz also welcomed Modi’s “encouraging” statement for resumption of Pakistan-India dialogues and the latter’s “positive” speech at UNGA in which he said that he wanted to improve relations with India’s neighbors, including Pakistan.
Aziz said that it was vital that PM Nawaz Sharif raise the Kashmir issue in the UN GA so that the world community know which stakeholders were hindering the way towards a resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Earlier, chiding Pakistan for raking up Kashmir in the UN GA, Modi had said that the UN was not the forum for resolving bilateral issues.
“I am prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere, without the shadow of terrorism, to promote our friendship and cooperation. However, Pakistan must also take its responsibility seriously to create an appropriate environment,” Modi had said.
CHINESE PRESIDENT WANTS TO VISIT PAKISTAN:
In the meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Aziz to discuss bilateral relations and major international issues of common concern including the Afghanistan issue, on the sidelines of the UNGA session.
Wang said China was looking forward to PM Sharif’s attendance at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Informal Meeting in Beijing in November and that “Chinese President Xi Jinping is also eager to pay a visit to Pakistan soon to develop relations between the two countries”.
“China is willing to bring into full play the role of the China-Pakistan Economic and Trade Corridor to lead economic development in Pakistan and give priority to the construction of infrastructure for transportation and energy and industrial parks in Pakistan,” Wang stressed.
“The two sides need to strengthen coordination and cooperation in law enforcement and security,” said the Chinese minister, adding that China supports Pakistan’s quest to become a member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Aziz said that both the Pakistani government and people are sincerely looking forward to the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan at an early date, which would add powerful impetus to the growth of Pakistan-China relations.
“Pakistan stands firmly with China on its core issues and appreciates China’s support for Pakistan’s quest to become a SCO member,” he said.
“Pakistan is also willing to work with China to build the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor for the benefit of both the countries,” Aziz added.