Pak Pres­i­dent says In­dia run­ning away from talks

Mam­noon Hus­sain’s re­mark draws sharp re­ac­tion from New Delhi

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Pak­istani pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain said on Wed­nes­day that for­eign sec­re­tary-level talks with In­dia re­mained sus­pended as the neigh­bour was “run­ning away” from di­a­logue. The re­mark drew a sharp re­sponse from New Delhi that In­dia had never shied away from talks and was will­ing to dis­cuss all is­sues in an at­mos­phere free from ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lence.

Hus­sain’s state­ment made at a joint ses­sion of par­lia­ment as­sumes sig­nif­i­cance as the pres­i­dent’s ad­dress to law­mak­ers gen­er­ally sets the govern­ment’s pol­icy pa­ram­e­ters. Hus­sain also raked up the Kash­mir is­sue, terming it the un­fin­ished agenda of Par­ti­tion.

“De­spite Pak­istan’s ef­forts for re­sump­tion of talks (with In­dia) and its of­fer of a joint probe in the Pathankot at­tack, the for­eign sec­re­tary-level talks are still sus­pended. Pak­istan is con­cerned about it,” he said. Hus­sain said Pak­istan wanted peace­ful ties with all neigh­bours by ad­dress­ing dis­putes through talks and ac­cused In­dia of “run­ning away from talks with Pak­istan”.

The devel­op­ment marked another low in ef­forts be­tween the neigh­bours to get their frag­ile peace process back on track after the New Year at­tack on the Pathankot air­base threw it in limbo. Hus­sain’s speech came days after prime min­is­ters Naren­dra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had a tele­phonic con­ver­sa­tion be­fore the lat­ter’s open-heart surgery in Lon­don on May 30.

“We have never shied away from talks. We are pre­pared to dis­cuss all is­sues with Pak­istan in an at­mos­phere free of ter­ror and vi­o­lence,” ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry spokesper­son Vikas Swarup told Hin­dus­tan Times.

Hus­sain’s state­ment came ahead of the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion sum­mit in Tashkent on June 23 and 24 where Modi is ex­pected to meet Sharif, though there is no con­fir­ma­tion of the meet­ing from ei­ther side. In­dia and Pak­istan are set to be­come new mem­bers of the group­ing.

Pak­istani high com­mis­sioner Ab­dul Ba­sit said in April that talks be­tween the neigh­bours were sus­pended and the In­dian for­eign of­fice re­acted to it by say­ing both sides were in touch to hold them.

Though it was not a meet­ing to an­nounce a time­line for the talks, the two for­eign sec­re­taries met in Delhi in the same month and agreed to re­main in touch.

CON­TIN­UED ON P9

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