Ahead of Foreign Secretaries of the two nations were scheduled to meet in Islamabad in August, Pakistan ‘spoiled the talks’ by talking to Hurriyat leaders, said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday in New York rejecting Islamabad’s version after Pakistan’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said the talks between New Delhi and Islamabad can happen only if New Delhi takes the initiative.
In response to Sartaj, Swaraj said, “No question of first or second. As far as our reaction is concerned we have said repeatedly that if a reaction had to come it had to come at this time only. The initiative was there from our side.” She also said that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony.
According to reports, after the meeting with IBSA Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session, Swaraj said, “New (Narendra Modi) government has given a new signal. So they (Pakistan) spoiled the talks, they spoiled the game.”
The Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan to protest against a meeting between Kashmiri separatist leaders and Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi had been cancelled in August.
The topic of trade should start immediately at the Wagah-Attari border has been discussed by the two Prime Ministers during their bilateral meeting, said Swaraj. After, PM Sharif had suggested that foreign secretaries should meet for bilateral talks and “we agreed to that,” she added.
She then raised a question, “But just as the talks are about to happen on the 25th (August), four days prior to that the (Pakistani envoy) is talking with Hurriyat leaders, then who spoilt the game?”
However, Mr Aziz said that it was an over-reaction by India. He had said that there was nothing new in Pakistani officials talking to Hurriyat leaders and that such talks had been happening for the last 20 years.
Swaraj said as far as talks with Hurriyat leaders are concerned, the leaders who came from Pakistan used to talk with the group. But, she added, “For the first time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to India and he did not talk to them because he understood India’s signal. Things began from there.” She said “But before any talks, the ambassador has met with the Hurriyat leaders, which have never happened.”