‘India will have to say please for Nawaz-Modi meeting’

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Sartaj Aziz says request for Sharif-Modi meeting in US should come from India, maintains Pakistan will keep meeting Hurriyat leaders

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Sartaj Aziz has said that India will have to request Pakistan if it wants a meeting between prime ministers of both the countries on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York to be held later this month, Indian media reported on Wednesday.

“Our position is very clear. India called off the NSA-level dialogue last month and the request for any meeting must come from you. India has to take the initiative,” Aziz said in a telephonic interview with the Hindustan Times.

Islamabad has not yet received any request from New Delhi for a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Aziz told the Indian newspaper. “Nothing so far… If there is a request, our stand is clear. We want a discussion on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir.”

Aziz clarified that Pakistan will not have a “conditional meeting” with India in New York, underlining the mutual distrust between the two sides. “India only wants to talk terror and we want a discussion on all issues, including Kashmir,” the newspaper quoted Aziz as saying.

Last month, India cancelled off, at the eleventh hour, NSA-level talks scheduled to be held on August 24 between the NSAs of the two countries. The talks were cancelled after Pakistan rejected India’s move to precondition the talks over a meeting between Hurriyat leaders and the top Pakistani diplomat. This was the second time India cancelled the dialogue process between the two countries since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the oath-taking ceremony of his Indian counterpart last year in New Delhi.

In August 2014, India had called off the foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit held a meeting with the Hurriyat leaders.

The prime ministers of both the countries are expected to be staying at the same hotel in New York and officials do not rule out a “chance of meeting” between PM Sharif and Modi. However, Pakistan has made it clear to the Indian government that it will keep meeting Hurriyat leaders.

“Let me make it clear that we will continue to meet the Hurriyat. Even people in India are questioning the government on its rigid stand of us not meeting them,” Aziz said.

Before cancelling last month’s NSA-level talks between the two countries, India had detained several Hurriyat leaders in order to prevent them from meeting the premier’s top aide ahead of the talks.