India turns down Pak offer, says let’s talk terror not Kashmir

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Rejecting an invitation by Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary to hold talks on Jammu and Kashmir, India has said Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is willing to travel to Islamabad, but only to discuss cross-border terrorism.

In a letter that was handed over to the Pakistani foreign office by Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale today, sources said India has conveyed that “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.”

Sources said the letter also states that 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.”

On Monday, Pakistan’s foreign secretary had written to his Indian counterpart inviting him to visit Pakistan. The Pakistan government said the letter “highlights the international obligation of both the countries, India and Pakistan, to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.”

The invitation came on a day that Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered an aggressive change of tone in his policy on Pakistan in his Independence Day speech. The Prime Minister said the people of Balochistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir have thanked him for raising the issues of atrocities committed by Pakistan’s security forces in both regions, a strong rebuttal to Pakistan accusing India of human rights violations in recent weeks in Kashmir.

India has accused Pakistan of inciting and facilitating the violent protests in Kashmir that began on July 8 when Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was killed by security forces. Protesters have targeted security forces and their bases in the Kashmir Valley and more than 60 people have died in clashes with 5,000, many of them security personnel, injured.

Pakistan has supported the protests and has eulogised Burhan Wani as a martyr.

With relations between the two countries plummeting, government sources said Foreign Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to skip a SAARC summit of eight South Asian countries to be held in Islamabad next week.

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