India rejects Pakistan's invitation to hold foreign secretary-level talks on Kashmir
S Jaishankar suggested focusing the discussion on cross-border terrorism instead, as it is 'central to the current situation' in the state.
India on Wednesday rejected Pakistan's invitation to hold foreign secretary-level talks on Kashmir, citing terror as its core concern in the region. Officials said Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has conveyed his willingness to visit Islamabad to discuss cross-border terrorism instead, according to ANI.
Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawal handed over a letter to the Pakistan Foreign Office, which read: "...The government of India rejects in their entirety the self-serving allegations regarding the situation in J&K, which is an integral part of India where Pakistan has no locus standi...Since aspects related to cross-border terrorism are central to the current situation in J&K, we have proposed that discussions between the foreign secretaries be focused on them", according to NDTV.
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry invited his Indian counterpart for talks on Monday, saying it was the "international obligation" of both countries to resolve the Kashmir dispute, "in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions". The letter from the Pakistan government came hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed his stand on alleged human rights violations in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in his Independence Day speech.
Modi's statements drew criticism from both Pakistan and the Congress, with Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz saying "Modi’s reference to Balochistan...proves Pakistan's contention that India, through intelligence agency RAW [Research and Analysis Wing], has been fomenting terrorism in Balochistan".
Meanwhile, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday has appealed to both India and Pakistan for independent access to Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to examine “recent allegations of serious human rights violations” in the region.