New Delhi/Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday night called off the NSA-level talks that were scheduled on Monday after it rejected India’s demand to furnish two assurances — that Islamabad would stick only to the agenda to discuss terrorism during the NSA-level talks, as decided at Ufa, and that it would not involve the Hurriyat in any way in talks with India as it would be tantamount to bringing in a third party.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had issued an ultimatum to Pakistan on Saturday evening, saying NSA talks would not be held if the assurances were not furnished from the Pakistani side by Saturday midnight.
“Pakistan reiterates that the scheduled NSA-level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India ... We have come to the conclusion that the proposed NSA-level talks between the two countries would not serve any purpose, if conducted on the basis of the two conditions laid down by the (Indian external affairs) minister,” the Pakistan foreign office said in a statement issued from Islamabad.
In New Delhi, the ministry of external affairs said, “Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate. India did not set any preconditions. We only reiterated that Pakistan respect the spirit of the Simla and Ufa agreements to which it was already committed.” India is expected to take the stand that it did not cancel the talks and that it was Pakistan’s decision, while Islamabad is expected to put the onus on India.