ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s insistence to discuss Kashmir during Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s upcoming visit to Islamabad prompted New Delhi to walk away from bilateral talks on the sidelines of the SAARC Ministerial Conference on August 4, The Nation learnt.

Amid speculations of a bilateral meeting between the top security czars of the nuclear armed neighbours and the possible agenda, India’s External Affairs Ministry made it clear yesterday there will be no such talks on the sidelines of the SAARC moot.

MEA Spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted: “Let me categorically state that @Home Minister of India is going for SAARC event. There will be no bilateral meetings with Pakistan.”

There were reports that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will meet his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on the sidelines. A meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also planned.

But Swarup said the Home Minister was going for a multilateral SAARC event and there will not be any bilateral meeting.

A senior official at the Foreign Ministry said there were efforts on both sides to take advantage of the opportunity for a bilateral meeting but India insisted there should be no mention of Kashmir and only terrorism and security should be on the agenda.

“India wants to discuss terrorism and counter-terrorism plans but is reluctant to touch the Kashmir issue. They insist, it is their internal matter which is not acceptable to Pakistan,” he added.

The official said Pakistan had made it clear to India that no high-level talks were possible ignoring the Kashmir dispute. “Their decision to skip the bilateral meeting has everything to do with Kashmir. Even if we speak of terrorism, India’s state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir is relevant,” he maintained.

Reports said Rajnath Singh was expected to blame Pakistan of slow pace investigations into the Pathankot airbase attack and the Mumbai terror strikes.

Singh’s visit comes in the backdrop of growing strain in Pak-India ties after Pakistan raised voice against the killing of Burhan Wani in held Kashmir on July 8 and the subsequent wave of terror unleashed by the Indian forces in the occupied territory.

This week, Pakistan said the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute was key to better ties with India.

Information Minister Pervez Rashid said India should provide Kashmiris their right of self-determination. He said Pakistan was committed to provide moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people.

Analyst Dr Pervez Iqbal Cheema said Pakistan was working hard to turn up diplomatic pressure on India to move towards resolving the Kashmir dispute-based on UN resolutions that call for an internationally-supervised plebiscite for Kashmiris to decide their future.

“India is narrating the efforts and struggle of Kashmiris for the right of self-determination as terrorism and blaming Pakistan for it. Pakistan has always a clear stance that Kashmir dispute should be resolved in accordance with UN resolutions,” he said.

Cheema said India wanted talks on other subjects ignoring the brutalities and violation of human rights in Kashmir.

Senator Abdul Qayyum Khan, a former Lt. General, said India was running away from talks on Kashmir. “The Indian government is adopting the policy of cruelty in Kashmir. Indian forces are misusing the explosive weapons against unarmed innocent Kashmiris that is a point of concern for the international community,” he added.

He said Pakistan cannot ignore the Kashmir issue in any talks with India. “We are hopeful that Kashmiri freedom fighter will be successful in their mission to get the right to self-determination,” he contended.

Meanwhile, former permanent representative at the United Nations in Geneva Zamir Akram said yesterday the Nuclear Suppliers Group was divided between Chinese position that criteria for new members was already defined and requires the aspirants to be a Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory and the US stance that India being a like-minded country deserved to be included in the group.

“The debate (on expansion of NSG) is moving towards what is going to be the criteria that can be accepted by consensus at the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said speaking at a round table discussion at Strategic Vision Institute on ‘Indo-US Nuclear Deal: Politics of NSG and its Implications for Pakistan’.

Akram said between these two positions, there were countries seeking criteria other than NPT consideration to accommodate India.

The plenary session of the NSG in Seoul in June failed to achieve consensus on India’s admission for being a non-NPT country. Seoul communiqué had said that NSG members deliberated on “Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of non-NPT States in the NSG and decided to continue its discussion”.

Akram said Indo-US nuclear deal and the subsequent NSG waiver for India had affected the region in terms of derailing the India-Pakistan dialogue on nuclear issues; destabilising regional security and undermining the global non-proliferation regime.

“US acted irresponsibly without considering the long term impact of their policies for the region,” he added.

Speaking on this occasion, Strategic Plans Division official Zahir Kazmi cautioned US against supporting India’s alone entry into NSG.

“If the US continually pushes for India’s exclusive entry into the NSG, the bilateral relations with Pakistan would not be ‘business as usual. People of Pakistan would not accept such discrimination,” he said.   

President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said that India’s alone entry into NSG would put back Pakistani efforts for developing its infrastructure and industry by decades, besides having serious consequences for national security and economic and industrial development.

He observed that the world in its obsession for India should not forget that India was one of the worst proliferators.

He called on the government to pro-actively continue diplomatic engagement with NSG members over the issue of admission of non-NPT states.