KARACHI - Expressing dismay at regression in developments in the NSA-level talks between Pakistan and India, Pakistan People’s Party vice president Sherry Rehman, said India should not stifle progress on bilateral talks by changing the rules of engagement.

If there was some miscommunication between the two countries at Ufa, it has been surely been corrected.

Sherry was commenting on Indian statements regarding the NSA-level talks to be held in India. “India is setting new preconditions for talks. This is neither helpful for India or Pakistan. Smart diplomacy is not about such narrow windows for engagement,” she said.

The Hurriyet meeting, the actual issue of contention in India, is a routine meeting that Pakistan refuses to take dictation on. India has continually accused Pakistan of orchestrating terror attacks within its territory. Yet Pakistan has continually expressed willingness to talk despite of such allegations, she said.

India reiterated today that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand. Commenting on that, Sherry said, “This is plain old coercive diplomacy and it would not work. Now, unfortunately a question mark over the fate of talks has emerged, as it did in the previous year, only when the news of the NSA’s meeting with the Hurriyet was announced. Why should the Kashmiris legitimate aspirations go unaddressed. Why should Pakistan not meet with them as per tradition.

Reiterating reservations her party had communicated shortly after the Ufa joint statement, she said, “While we have always supported a constructive peace process, it should be apparent now why we were stressing that the joint statement should have reflected Pakistan’s concerns clearly and precisely too.”

“The PPP has time and again reiterated that maintaining an uninterruptable dialogue is not predicated on accepting only one sides’ concerns and Indian belligerence is shrinking the space for peace constituencies, both with the policy stakeholders and, more crucially, in the wider public discourse in Pakistan,” she added.

Moreover, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman PPP, has extended support to the demand of peasants, protesting in Punjab. He asked the government to accept their demands and fix the support prices for their crops in a just and favourable manner.

He was talking to PPP leader Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, son of democratic leader late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, who called on him at the Bilawal House on Saturday.

Nawabzada Iftikhar briefed the situation in Punjab where farmers and growers are up in protest for not getting fair prices for their produces by the PML-N government which was deliberately targeting the growers and peasants. He pointed out that the rural economy of entire country had a boom during the PPP government in Islamabad because it ensured that farmers are paid handsomely for their crops besides giving them the required facilities. He further stated that farmers, growers and peasant communities of Punjab are looking towards the PPP for support in their struggle.

Bilawal said PPP and its leadership had always fought the injustices and atrocities committed against labour and peasant class and would continue to side by them in any movement for their genuine rights. He said PPP supported the sit-in and protest of the farmer community for fixation of support prices for different crops. He urged the government to accept their demands without any delay.