NEW DELHI (TIP): The India-Pakistan NSA-level dialogue which is meant to address “all issues connected to terrorism” is all set to take place as proposed by India on August 23-24.
While Indian officials said they were still awaiting an official confirmation, Pakistan NSA and adviser to PM Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz announced in Islamabad that he will travel to India on August 23 for talks with India’s NSA Ajit Doval.
Pakistan’s confirmation, even if not official yet, has come almost a couple of weeks after India, as the host nation, proposed dates for the dialogue. It had become important for Pakistan to confirm the talks as the delay had led to speculation in the past few days that the formidable Pakistan army did not want Aziz to travel to New Delhi.
According to Pakistani sources, the army had no reservation about the Ufa initiative which saw PM Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sharif agreeing to restart the engagement process with a dialogue between the two top security officials. Modi and Sharif had met in Ufa (Russia) last month.
Pakistani diplomats have maintained for the past two weeks that the dialogue could only take place if India created what they described as an enabling environment. They attributed the delay to a media campaign which they said had been unleashed against Pakistan by Indian officials, especially over the Gurdaspur and Udhampur attacks.
It was evident all along though that both sides were going to find it difficult to walk away from the talks, the acrimonious exchanges notwithstanding. It was Pakistan which first came up with the idea to have a dialogue between Aziz and Doval as it felt it had enough evidence to confront India with over, as it alleges, New Delhi’s support to insurgency in Balochistan and FATA. When Aziz comes here, he will be armed with “evidence” to prove involvement of India’s agencies in carrying out the Peshawar massacre of 132 children.
One of the reasons why India accepted Pakistan’s proposal was that Doval himself was keen to engage Pakistan on terrorism. The arrest of a Pakistani terrorist in Udhampur and the Gurdaspur attack perpetrated, as the government said in Parliament, by Pakistani nationals have strengthened Doval’s resolve to discuss terror with Islamabad. Indian officials maintained the dialogue was meant to focus only on terrorism.