India to go by joint statement, not be bothered by Aziz remark’

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) India will work with Pakistan on the points laid down in the Ufa joint statement after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif, and nothing that Sharif’s key advisor Sartaj Aziz said later will affect it.

According to sources here, Aziz’s contrary comments to the media in Islamabad on Monday were possibly made keeping in mind his “domestic audience”, many of whom had criticised the joint statement, especially at Kashmir not being mentioned in the document.

Nothing that Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister’s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, has said “affects the actionable propositions” in the joint statement, the sources said.

“What they say to their people is for them. We have to judge by what they say to us,” a source said, adding that Aziz’s statement was a “mix and match exercise” of “known Pakistani positions with what he said was said at Ufa”.

India is planning to take up with Pakistan the setting up of a meeting between the National Security Advisors, one of the major points of the joint statement, at which terrorism will be specifically discussed.

India is also prepared to discuss all “outstanding issues” and the “ways and means” to expedite the Mumbai terror attack trial, as laid down in the July 10 joint statement, the source said.

The India-Pakistan joint statement “is an accurate reflection of the spirit” of the Modi-Sharif meeting in Ufa and was formulated by both the foreign secretaries – India’s S. Jaishankar and Pakistan’s Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary.

The statement, which was read out by both foreign secretaries to the media, “captures the main points of the meeting” and “reasonably, accurately reflects the substance of the meeting,” the sources said.

Besides a meeting of the NSAs, both sides would begin work on a meeting of the director general of the Border Security Force with the director general of Pakistan Rangers and between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMO).

Asked whether Kashmir was discussed at the Ufa meeting, a source said that “broadly the contours of Kashmir – in a way” were discussed at Ufa.

The source also dismissed as “petty, to the point of being ludicrous” criticism by some quarters in Pakistan over Sharif walking up to Modi in the meeting room in Ufa, Russia, on July 10.

According to the source, India had asked Pakistan to arrange for the meeting between the two prime ministers, and it was natural for Modi to be standing to receive Sharif that day.

“Who walked how many steps… the criticism is silly. If Nawaz Sharif had asked for the meeting, our prime minister would have walked up to him,” the source said.

It was Modi’s idea to have a joint statement to be read out to the waiting media, the source added.

The plan to have a meeting between the directors general of the BSF and Pakistan Rangers and also of the DGMOs of both countries meeting to thrash out border issues was also Modi’s idea.

Even the point about both sides releasing fishermen and boats in each other’s custody in 15 days was Modi’s idea, while the idea to promote religious tourism was Sharif’s, to which Modi agreed.

There was a “fair amount” of discussion on 26/11 mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s case and the need to progress on the trial, and Sharif, being a politician, was able to understand the public sentiment in India.

The words of the joint statement were “chosen very carefully”.

“We want to do things (begin work on the agreed points) sooner rather than later,” the source added.

The Congress on Tuesday described as an “eyewash” the Modi-Sharif meeting in Ufa and said Modi must explain on what grounds he took the “big step”.

“The value and importance of the joint statement is not even worth the paper on which it is written, which is clear now,” party spokesperson Anand Sharma said, reacting to Aziz asking for more evidence and information from India on the Mumbai attack.



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