Islamabad: Seeking to blame India for the “last-minute hitch” in talks, Pakistan on Friday said New Delhi appeared to be unwilling to commit to a roadmap for future engagement and made it clear that the dialogue cannot move forward if Kashmir is not discussed.
“If we focus more only on those issues which India gives importance to and ignore those considered important by Pakistan, then I don’t think the talks can move forward,” Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters, a day after his meeting with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna.
“Kashmir has been part of our negotiations. It is a disputed territory. It is not not possible to delink Kashmir from the negotiations,” he said.
He said it would not make sense to discuss aspects like cultural and trade relations while ignoring “core” issues like Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security and Siachen.
“We understand their concerns and want to address those. But there are concerns of Pakistan which they (India) should address,” he said.
Qureshi said there was “no deadlock” but acknowledged that there were “difficulties and problems” that both sides would have to overcome.
“It is the nature of India-Pakistan talks that whenever there is progress, there is always a last minute hitch. There was no hitch from Pakistan’s side,” he said.
Noting that Krishna had said he was prepared to discuss all issues, Qureshi said: “We wanted that we should have a roadmap for the future at the end this discussion and they felt they did not have the mandate to commit to a roadmap.”
Qureshi contended that India was “narrowing the dialogue” and Pakistan had made it clear that “you cannot be selective in discussions”.
The issues between India and Pakistan were already identified and part of the eight segments of the composite dialogue that had continued for four years, he said.
“If they want to confine those issues, it becomes difficult for Pakistan,” he said.
Taking a dig at Krishna, the Pakistani foreign minister said he did not step out of the talks to “attend any phone calls”, but the “Indian foreign minister received foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting”.
“I led Pakistan’s team and I didn’t need to make even a single phone call (to Pakistan leaders) during the day-long talks. Krishna is the principal for giving direction to foreign policy (but) why were directions being sent repeatedly from Delhi?”
He said the Indian side had been “selective” in Thursday’s talks but such an approach did not conform to the spirit of the meeting of the Indian and Pakistan premiers in Bhutan in April as they had decided to discuss all issues.
“In talks, there can be progress when we move forward on all issues at the same time. If we give importance only to those issues which India says are important and sideline issues of interest to Pakistan, then we cannot take things forward.”
Qureshi said there are difficulties in the bilateral ties and both countries need to find a way to handle them.
“We are ready to engage, we are ready to negotiate any time, anywhere and we are not in a hurry. We will wait till they are ready,” he said.
Qureshi said Pakistan wanted a roadmap for the future as an outcome of the talks but the Indian side felt they did not have the mandate to make such a commitment.
“India was narrowing the dialogue and we said you cannot be selective,” he said.
“We understand India’s concerns and want to address them. But Pakistan also has its concerns and core issues which should be understood by India,” he said.
“Pakistan is ready for talks but dialogue should be substantive, meaningful and result-oriented. Pakistan’s people and Kashmiris cannot be delinked from the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” Qureshi said.
“There will not be any hitch from Pakistan side. I am ready to negotiate on any issue,” Qureshi added.
Responding to a specific question on whether there was a deadlock in Thursday’s talks, Qureshi replied: “I will not call it a deadlock. But I will say Pakistan’s approach yesterday was solid and constructive and we wanted to move forward.”
Pakistan had shared a “non paper” with India on steps that could be taken to restore confidence and bridge the trust deficit, he said. Qureshi contended both sides had “reached agreement on many issues” in which areas progress could be made to improve the atmosphere.
Qureshi also contended that his discussions with Krishna at an informal dinner on Wednesday night were “very successful” but that things changed a day later at the formal talks.
“I felt India, on a basic level, was not fully prepared,” he said.
Qureshi made it clear Pakistan is not willing to back down on its historical position on the Kashmir issue. He joined issues with Krishna on his assertion that any human rights violations and law and order problems in Jammu and Kashmir would be handled by the state’s elected government.
“It was already decided that Kashmir is part of our talks and that it is a disputed territory. If it is said that Pakistan’s people and Kashmiris should become delinked from the situation inside (Jammu and Kashmir), that is not possible,” he said.
“There may be mechanisms in India to watch human rights violations but if the army is being deployed to maintain law and order, there is curfew in many cities, strikes across Jammu and Kashmir and innocent people are being affected, how can Pakistan become delinked?” he said.
“The government of Indian-occupied Kashmir is also looking forward to this dialogue and is keen there is some forward movement vis-a-vis this dialogue because they understand the difficulties they are undergoing at the moment.”
Pakistan is as prepared as India to tackle terrorism because it is a victim of the menace, he added.
Qureshi also contested Krishna’s assertion that Pakistan has not provided even a “shred of evidence” of India’s alleged role in fomenting unrest in Balochistan, saying he had not spoken out at Thursday’s joint press conference as he was the host and Krishna was his guest.
“According to my information, our interior minister discussed this with their home minister and (Krishna) should be aware of this,” he said.