Almost a month after NSA-level talks scheduled for August 23-24 between India and Pakistan were cancelled, the Indian government had made an offer of a meeting in September between the National Security Advisors of two countries in New York on the sidelines of annual meeting of the United Nations general assembly, The Indian Express reports.
According to the Express report, on the morning of September 20, three days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out for annual meeting of the United Nations general assembly, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan reached out to Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and suggested a meeting in New York between the National Security Advisors.
The Indian offer was simple: since the two Prime Ministers and their NSAs would be in New York around the same time, it would be an opportunity to move forward on the “Ufa understanding”. The agenda was also fixed, as per the Ufa understanding: “Terrorism and related issues.”
While Chaudhry took it up with the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself, Pakistan responded with a counter-proposal: That since the Foreign Ministers will also be in New York around the same time, they should also meet on the sidelines of the UNGA.
However, India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office discussed the matter but did not accept the proposal saying they want to move forward as per the “Ufa understanding.”
Even though the issue was settled before Modi left for New York, top government sources told Express that India was interested in NSA-level talks as per the “Ufa understanding” and that meant “terrorism” was the central issue. Pakistan, on the other hand, was not “that open and that is why it did not happen.”
New Delhi’s hopes that Pakistan would respond in a “positive manner” to the proposed NSA-level dialogue in New York felt cold when Pakistan proposed a Foreign Minister-level meeting between External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart Aziz (who functions both as Pakistan’s NSA and Foreign Minister), as it was seen as an attempt to bring in other outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir issue.