Islamabad (PTI): In a turnaround, Pakistan today asked for “more evidence and information” from India on the Mumbai attack case and asserted that talks cannot take place without Kashmir being on the agenda, barely three days after the two countries agreed to re-engage.
Going back to its oft-repeated stand, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz made it clear “no dialogue will take place with India unless Kashmir issue is included in the agenda.”
Aziz, who was present in the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia last week, came out with a two-page statement before reporters here and took a few questions.
While a joint statement issued after the Sharif-Modi talks said the two sides will find ways and means to expedite the Mumbai trial, Aziz today indicated that it will take some time, putting the onus on India.
“We need more information and evidence to conclude the (Mumbai) trial. The reference to ‘additional information’ (in the Ufa statement) is a recognition of the need that more information is needed to expedite the trial,” he said.
India has been upset over the almost non-existent trial in the 2008 Mumbai attack case, with even the mastermind Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi being released by the court as the Pakistan government failed to furnish the required evidence before the anti-terrorism court.
New Delhi has maintained that it has supplied sufficient information and evidence to nail the accused in the 2008 attack in Mumbai that left 166 people dead.
In remarks seen as assuaging domestic concerns after Sharif came under sharp attack over omission of Kashmir in the joint statement, Aziz said the Pakistan Prime Minister “affirmed our principled position in clear and unequivocal terms during his annual speech at the UN General Assembly. We would continue to extend political, moral, and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren.”
Aziz also made it a point to rake up Samjhauta blast and Balochistan issues over which India has made strong rebuttals. Sharif “sought information on the progress made on the trial of Samjhauta express terrorist incident,” he said.
While stating that Sharif and Modi had “frank” discussion on each other’s concerns, Aziz said, “Pakistan has been deeply concerned, not only about hostile statements from Indian Ministers but also about Indian interference in Pakistan, including continuing support for insurgency in Balochistan.”
He said to address these “acrimonious concerns” the two sides agreed that their National Security Advisers would meet, first in New Delhi and then in Islamabad.