After Saarc summit, Indo-Pak issue dominates proceedings around Asem meet
Simran Sodhi
[email protected]
New Delhi, 12 November
The India-Pakistan narrative seems to have overtaken the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit now. After the recent SAARC summits where the highlight was Indo-Pak talks, the ASEM summit seems to be the latest casualty. Even the emphasis of the Ministry of External Affairs remained very much on raising the issue of terrorism and Pakistan, sidelining the ASEM summit in the process.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs and national security, Mr Sartaj Aziz, today met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.
Mr Aziz, who is here to attend the ASEM meet, held a half-hour meeting with Mr Khurshid. According to the Pakistan High Commission, the meeting was “held in a cordial atmosphere. Both sides reviewed bilateral relations in a constructive and forward looking manner”. It is learnt that India raised its concerns over heightened ceasefire violations, and infiltration across the Line of Control with Pakistan during the talks.
But just before meeting Mr Aziz, Mr Khurshid addressed a press conference where he set the tone in rather strong terms. Answering a question on Mr Aziz meeting Hurriyat leaders, Mr Khurshid said it would be “counter-productive” towards meaningful dialogue between the two countries.
He said India has “done a great deal” to build public opinion in favour of dialogue with Pakistan and such actions by Pakistan are not encouraging but counter-productive.
Mr Khurshid said he did not want to give advice to his “colleague from across the border” and added that if Pakistan is serious about having a meaningful dialogue with India it would be necessary to respect “India’s sentiments, point of view and sensitivities of our country”.
“This is not a dialogue that happens in isolation, this is a dialogue that is contextual and needs public support,” the external affairs minister said.
“Events in recent times are not seen by us or anybody in India as encouraging, I think they are counterproductive and I would imagine if there is any seriousness in desire to reach some point of situation in which a dialogue meaningfully can take place, whatever be the end result of the dialogue, I think for a meaningful dialogue to take place conducive conditions have to be created, and it will have to be done by both sides, it cannot be only on one side,” he said
“Some of these events have been somewhat counterproductive unfortunately,” Mr Khurshid added.