India on Thursday debunked claims by an advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that New Delhi had sent messages to Islamabad for talks, the Hindustan Times reported. Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said there could be no dialogue with a country that supports terrorism and whose leadership spews hate speech.

Moeed Yusuf, special assistant to Khan on national security and strategic policy, had said that New Delhi had sent messages to Islamabad with “a desire for conversation” but declined to give details. However, he said that India must free all political prisoners in Kashmir and make Kashmiris a party to the talks, if they have to be held.

Srivastava rubbished these claims. “As regards the purported message, let me make it clear that no such message was sent from our side,” he said at a weekly news briefing. Srivastava described Yusuf’s comments on Kashmir as an effort by Pakistan to “divert attention from domestic failures of the present government and mislead its domestic constituents by pulling India into headlines on a daily basis”. He said that instead, Yusuf should only advise the Pakistani establishment.

“The statements made by him are contrary to facts on the ground, misleading and fictitious,” Srivastava said. “The Pakistani leadership continues to indulge in inappropriate, provocative and hate speech against India. Such support to terrorism against India and use of derogatory and abusive language are not conducive to normal neighbourly relations.”

In his interview to The Wire earlier this week, Yusuf had claimed that “Kashmiris hate Indians”. He added that Kashmir was not an internal matter of India but the scrapping of the region’s special status in August 2019 was a matter for the United Nations.

India and Pakistan have not held official dialogue since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which killed 166 people. But Yusuf blamed India for “deliberately delaying sending evidence and witnesses” for the trial of the seven men accused of involvement in the attacks, in order to deliberately run down Pakistan in front of the international community.

Yusuf also claimed that India had been funding the Pakistani Taliban, and blamed it for the 2014 Peshawar school attack, in which over 130 children were killed. Yusuf also accused the Indian embassy in Afghanistan of using think-tanks as a front to funnel money to nationalists in Balochistan.
But he did not offer any evidence to back up his claims.

On Wednesday, India had criticised Pakistan for raising the Kashmir matter at a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations, saying that Pakistan is a “globally-acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism”, which pretends to be a victim. Earlier in the day, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had, without naming India, claimed that a “state in South Asia” had been targeting its religious minority groups to foment division and hatred.