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Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup comments came after Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said his country planned to invite India for a dialogue on the Kashmir dispute. Photo: HT
Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup comments came after Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said his country planned to invite India for a dialogue on the Kashmir dispute. Photo: HT

India rebuffs Pakistan offer for talks on Kashmir dispute

India, however, says it would welcome dialogue on 'contemporary and relevant issues in India-Pakistan relations', including cross-border terrorism, infiltration

New Delhi: India on Saturday rebuffed a reported offer of talks by Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute saying it would welcome a dialogue with Pakistan on “contemporary and relevant issues in India-Pakistan relations", including cross-border terrorism.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the “contemporary and relevant issues" in current context included “a stoppage of Pakistani support for cross-border terrorism, infiltration of terrorists like Bahadur Ali, incitement to violence and terrorism across the border, parading of internationally recognized terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, and sincere follow-up on the Mumbai attack trial and the Pathankot attack investigation in Pakistan".

The comments were in response to reported remarks by Sartaj Aziz, the adviser on foreign affairs to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Aziz had said that Pakistan planned to invite India for a dialogue on the Kashmir dispute that arises from rival claims by India and Pakistan to the whole of Kashmir, which they administer in parts. The region has been the trigger for three of the four wars between the two countries since 1947.

According to India, Bahadur Ali is a militant belonging to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group and was captured by Indian security personnel in July. New Delhi views this as proof that Pakistan is sending in militants to foment an Islamic insurgency in Kashmir, a charge that Pakistan denies though it admits to extending moral, political and diplomatic support to what it terms as the “freedom struggle" in Indian administered Kashmir.

India also says that Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin are militants who are based in Pakistan and heading anti-India militant groups. India blames Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Toiba for the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai in which 10 militants shot and killed 166 people at multiple locations between 26-29 November that year before being taken out by Indian security personnel.

India has been demanding that the plotters of the Mumbai attack including Hafeez Saeed be brought to justice. Pakistan however says there is insufficient evidence to keep Saeed and other accused in the case in prison.

Syed Salahuddin is head of United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella organisation of at least a dozen anti-India militant groups, including the Hizbul Mujahideen, once considered the dominant militant group in Jammu and Kashmir. The UJC is believed to have been formed by the Pakistan army in the early 1990s for better coordination among anti-India groups operating in Kashmir.

India-Pakistan peace talks on a range of issues, including the Kashmir dispute, have been on hold for three years. In December, there were signs of a revival of dialogue between India and Pakistan but an attack on an Indian airbase in Pathankot upset the process with India demanding action from Pakistan on the raid that New Delhi has blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group.

Ties between India and Pakistan have since frayed further after Pakistan last month described Burhan Wani, who India says is a militant belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen, as a Kashmiri leader. Wani was killed by Indian security forces last month.

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