Islamabad—Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale on Wednesday submitted Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s reply to an earlier Pakistan invitation for dialogue, expressing his country’s ‘willingness’ for talks with Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute, sources in the Foreign Office said Wednesday.
However, India also pushed for talks on “certain other issues”, they added.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry had on Monday invited his Indian counterpart to Pakistan for dialogue on the Kashmir dispute in a letter that “highlighted the international obligations of Pakistan and India with regards to resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions”.
Foreign Office is now preparing a response to India’s reply keeping in mind Pakistan’s stance on certain issues, as well as the ongoing situation in Kashmir.
Indian foreign ministry sources on Wednesday told foreign news agency that talks should focus on the situation in Kashmir, adding that India is willing to send Jaishankar to Pakistan for talks focused on fighting cross-border terrorism.
The Indian sources made it clear, however, that India “rejects in their entirety the self-serving allegations regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India”.
The move comes as relations between Pakistan and India remain strained because of Kashmir issue.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday told a rally in India-held Kashmir that “going to Pakistan is the same as going to hell”.
Parrikar went on to say that Indian troops had “sent back five terrorists yesterday”, referring to the gunmen who were reportedly killed while attempting a cross-border incursion on Monday.
On Aug 14, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi Abdul Basit dedicated Independence Day to the freedom of Kashmiris, while both neighbours traded allegations of ‘unprovoked’ cross-border firing along the working boundary.
Tensions between Pakistan and India have been running high since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani sparked anti-government protests in India-held Kashmir, with over 60 people dead in clashes between protesters and Indian authorities.
Last week, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had announced Pakistan was ready for dialogue with India on Kashmir, in response to which India listed issues that must be addressed before any progress is possible.