ISLAMABAD/Nagpur:Ending the suspense, Pakistan tonight called off the India-Pakistan NSA-level talks, hours after India made it clear that discussions on Kashmir and a meeting with separatists will not be acceptable.
“Pakistan reiterates that the scheduled NSA-level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India,” a statement by the Pakistani Foreign Office said.
Pakistan’s announcement brought to an end the battle of attrition as to who would blink first.
That the talks was a non-starter was evident in the last two days in view of the acrimonious exchanges between the two sides but the last straw appeared to be External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s virtual ultimatum to Pakistan to give a clear commitment by midnight that it would not go ahead with meeting the separatists.
“There will be no talks,” Swaraj declared when asked what would happen if Pakistan did not accept the position outlined by her on separatists and Kashmir though she maintained these were not pre-conditions.
The Minister was reacting to Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz’s remarks earlier in the day that he was willing to come to India for talks without any pre-conditions. Aziz’s talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on terror-related issues was scheduled to have taken place in New Delhi on Monday.
What became a red rag for New Delhi was the invitation by the Pakistan High Commission to Hurriyat leaders to meet Aziz ahead of the first-ever NSA-level talks, which was agreed upon in Ufa in Russia in July during the meeting between the two prime ministers – Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif.
India was also upset over Pakistan including Kashmir as part of the agenda for the NSA talks that was mainly scheduled to discuss terror