India should not stifle progress on talks by changing rules of engagement: PPP
Karachi, August 22, 2015: Pakistan Peoples Party Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman, expressing dismay at the regression in developments in the NSA-level talks between Pakistan and India, said, “India should not stifle progress on bilateral talks by changing the rules of engagement. If there was some miscommunication between the two countries at Ufa, it has been surely been corrected.”
Rehman was commenting on Indian statements on the eve of the NSA-level talks to be held in India. “India is setting new preconditions for talks. This is neither helpful for India or Pakistan. Smart diplomacy is not about such narrow windows for engagement,” she said.
The Hurriyet meeting, the actual issue of contention in India, said Rehman, is a routine meeting that Pakistan refuses to take dictation on.
“India has continually accused Pakistan of orchestrating terror attacks within its territory,” said Rehman, adding, “yet Pakistan has continually expressed willingness to talk despite, and because, of such allegations.”
India reiterated today that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand nor can talks go on in an atmosphere of terror.
Commenting on that, Rehman said, “This is plain old coercive diplomacy, and it won’t work. Now, unfortunately a question mark over the fate of talks has emerged, as it did the previous year, only when the news of the NSA’s meeting with the Hurriyet was announced. Why should the Kashmiris legitimate aspirations go un-addressed? Why should Pakistan not meet with them as per tradition? ”
Reiterating reservations her party had communicated shortly after the Ufa joint statement, Rehman said, “While we have always supported a constructive peace process, it should be apparent now why we were stressing that the joint statement should have reflected Pakistan’s concerns clearly and precisely too.”
“The PPP has time and again reiterated that maintaining an uninterruptable dialogue is not predicated on accepting only one sides concerns and Indian belligerence is shrinking the space the space for peace constituencies, both with policy stakeholders and, more crucially, in the wider public discourse in Pakistan,” said Rehman.
“Successfully penning down its concerns on paper in the one-sided statement issued at Ufa has provided India with an important talking point for diverting attention from its actual reservations,” she added.
Rehman, in a statement issued just after the Ufa meet, had said that not voicing our concerns immediately would inevitably lead to another stalemate once the core issues are finally put forward from our side, adding that attempts at skirting around any of these, or postponing discussions on them for fear of an impasse have in the past too led to exactly that.
“We have said time and again that both our countries need to work together to ensure peace in the region, as well as within themselves, especially with the common threats both face. But these issues can only be addressed when we are capable of creating a sustainable diplomatic space which is not predicated on, nor affected by, new preconditions,” she concluded.