The first-ever planned national security-level talks between India and Pakistan were called off this week after Pakistan refused to back down from meeting with separatists from the disputed, Indian-controlled region of Kashmir.
The talks were slated to take place in New Delhi between August 23-24 and headed by Pakistani and Indian National Security Advisors Sartaj Aziz and Ajit K Doval. The talks were meant to discuss ways to combat and end cross-border terrorism in the region.
A series of vitriolic exchanges reportedly intensified, leading up to the cancellation, with blame and accusations flying that each side was trying to sabotage the talks.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry announced that the Monday meetings would “serve no purpose” given what it said were conditions imposed by India and that the country’s delegation would not attend.
“India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr. Sartaj Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives during his visit to India,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement, according to the AP.
The Journal notes that Washington has urged the leaders of both nuclear-armed nations to work towards easing escalating tensions that could destabilize the region as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, this month, said neighboring Pakistan is partly to blame for the chaos in his country, alleging they are harboring Taliban terrorists.
Pakistan called off the talks, yet Aziz reportedly said Pakistan was not responsible for their cancellation. On Tuesday, NDTV quoted Aziz as saying “Narendra Modi’s India acts as if they are a regional superpower, but we are also a nuclear-armed country and we know how to defend ourselves.” He continued, “the international community believes that Kashmir is a problem between the two countries which should be resolved.”
The Pakistani government continuously refers to the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir as being “occupied,” and a trust deficit has existed between India and Pakistan since the Asian subcontinent gained independence from the British in 1947 and the partition created Pakistan.
Pakistan has long been accused and suspected of supporting Kashmiri separatists and harboring militants who launch terror attacks in India. Pakistan consistently denies these allegations.
Earlier this month, an alleged Pakistani terrorist from the Lashker-e-Taiba (LT) Islamist militant group was apprehended in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir after he and an accomplice carried out a deadly attack and an hours-long gun battle exchange, which killed two members of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and left 11 soldiers wounded.
The terrorist, identified as Usman Khan, had reportedly been on a mission to “kill Hindus.”
I am from Pakistan and my partner was killed in the firing but I escaped. Had I been killed, it would have been Allah’s doing. There is fun in doing this… I came to kill Hindus.