India, Pakistan reach out to Western media on NSA talks
The NSA talks may have been called off, but India and Pakistan are actively seeking out the influential Western media to put forth their respective points of view -- with an eye on the UN General Assembly next month.
New Delhi: The NSA talks may have been called off, but India and Pakistan are actively seeking out the influential Western media to put forth their respective points of view -- with an eye on the UN General Assembly next month.
Both sides have wasted no time in reaching out to the Western media, including top US media houses like New York Times and Washington Post, within days of the National Security Advisor level talks having been called off.
On Monday, it was a select invited gathering of Western media addressed by Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar at a briefing room in Shastri Bhavan.
On Tuesday, it was Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit who addressed an invited gathering of Western media at the high commission.
It has been learnt that Jaishankar reiterated India's view point on why talks between Indian NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz had to be called off.
He mentioned the Ufa talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and the agreed joint statement, and how under it both the NSAs were to discuss only terrorism-related issues.
He is learnt to have explained how Pakistan was trying to scuttle the talks by dragging in Kashmir into the agenda, when it was not part of the NSA talks.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in her press conference on Saturday afternoon, had said the NSA talks could be held if Pakistan sticks to the Ufa agenda of only discussing terrorism-related issues and does not drag in the Kashmiri separatists.
Basit addressed around 15 media persons from top Western media houses.
He is learnt to have attempted to refute India's criticism that Pakistan changed the agreed Ufa agenda and also dragged in the Kashmiri separatists.
He is learnt to have said that Islamabad was keen till the last minute to attend the NSA talks, and that India "deliberately" misread the Ufa joint statement.
Basit is also learnt to have dismissed Sushma Swaraj's contention that Pakistan was confusing the "preamble" of the Ufa joint statement with the agreed points of engagement, and also justified Aziz's proposed meeting with the Hurriyat who he said were "the genuine representatives" of the Kashmiri people.
Basit is also known to have raised the issue of alleged Indian involvement in Balochistan and said India wanted to "scuttle" the NSA talks as Islamabad would have presented its dossiers during the August 23-24 meeting.
He also mentioned India's "unprovoked" firing along the border.
The US has voiced disappointment at the NSA talks being cancelled and expressed hope that the parley will be held.
Leaders of the two countries would be addressing the UN General Assembly to be held in September.