NSA Talks: India To Push Hard Line With Pak After LoC Firing

16 August 2015
The Hindustan Times
Shishir Gupta

New Delhi: Deliberate Pakistani provocations on the Line of Control and parts of the border in Punjab and the Jammu region have prompted the government to reassess its strategy for the upcoming national security adviser-level dialogue. The Modi government is firm on going beyond the usual exchange of views and will not be deflected into letting the dialogue devolve into a slanging match. New Delhi wants Islamabad to take tangible steps on stopping infiltration as well as action on proscribed groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba for exporting terror to India. Talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistan counterpart Sartaj Aziz are scheduled for August 23, exactly a week away. With its focus on a result-oriented dialogue on terrorism on the basis of the Ufa statement, the Modi government has taken serious note of Islamabad's representative Abdul Basit's recent statement on Kashmir and cross-LoC firing by the Pakistan army in Poonch resulting in six civilian fatalities. 'Both PM Modi and PM Nawaz Sharif decided in Ufa to take on terrorism in South Asia and are willing to discuss the issues across the table,' said a senior South Block official. But despite India's restraint, both on the border as well as in diplomacy, the reaction of their envoy and role of their army is a deliberate attempt to turn the NSA talks into a slanging match with no results. We perceive that the Pakistan bureaucracy has been kept out of the forthcoming dialogue, and it wants to force India to call off the talks as a result,' the official said. Before Basit reiterated Pakistan's support to the 'legitimate Kashmiri struggle' in a function on Pakistan's Independence Day, New Delhi was ready to go beyond merely exchanging terror dossiers and towards real counter-terror cooperation. 'We want to firmly take up the 26-11 investigations and evidence of Pakistani involvement in the recent Gurdaspur and Udhampur attacks. We also want to address any legitimate Pakistani evidence of the so-called Indian hand in attacks across the border. With the threat of Islamic State looming large over the Af-Pak region, the idea is to move forward rather than talking past each other,' said a senior official. During the NSA-level dialogue, India expects Pakistan to walk the talk on the June 6, 2004 bilateral statement and stop exporting terror from territories under Islamabad's control as well as make a genuine attempt at blocking infiltration. The issue of cross-border firing will be discussed by NSA but taken up in detail in a scheduled dialogue between the two directors general of Pakistan Rangers and BSF as well as of Military Operations as per the Ufa statement. Government sources said that India is keen to evolve a framework that allows both countries to share terror-related information between the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan. 'We are keen that the terror-related issues discussed during the November 2012 FIA team visit to India are taken forward. The easiest option is turn the NSA dialogue into one-upmanship. The toughest is to move forward despite all provocations,' said an Indian diplomat.