NEW YORK - Pakistan has made it clear that talks with India could take place only if New Delhi takes the initiative for resumption of the stalled peace process.

Top Pakistani officials also said that no meeting has taken place between Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at regional conferences held on the sidelines of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

In almost identical statements made by Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said the onus for the revival of talks which India cancelled last month rested with New Delhi. Talking to Indian journalists on the sidelines of a Saarc meeting, Sartaj Aziz said India’s response to Pakistan’s envoy meeting Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi last month was an overreaction. India had called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan over its High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s meeting with Kashmiri leaders in New Delhi, adversely affecting the relations between the two countries, which had seen a revival in May after Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony. India had also lodged several protests over what it called were incidents of repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.  On Tursday, Aziz said, “Pakistan has not committed ceasefire violations.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the UN General Assembly on Saturday, the day PM Sharif is expected to leave for Pakistan. 

Talking to Pakistani journalists, Foreign Secretary Chaudhry said Pakistan desires peaceful relations in South Asia but after unilateral cancellation of Pakistan-India talks, the ball is now in New Delhi’s court. Regarding prospects of a meeting between senior Pakistani and Indian officials, who are in New York for the UN General Assembly session, the foreign secretary said the onus now is on India since it cancelled the foreign secretary level talks. “If the Indians are interested in a meeting, we should approach us,” he said. On other issues, the foreign secretary said Pakistan has a longstanding policy to engage Kashmiri leaders as part of consultation process. The Kashmir issue, he said, cannot just be wished away. The top Pakistani career diplomat said Pakistan is not part of the international coalition being cobbled to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants. He explained that Islamabad’s hands are full as it is waging a major operation, Zarb e Azb, against militants in North Waziristan. In response to a question, Aizaz Chaudhry noted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s participation in the UN General Assembly is not only an opportunity to spell out Islamabad’s views on key international issues but also it emanates an important message that Islamabad is moving forward with its agenda of economic progress and peaceful relations.

He also emphasised the point that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s articulation of his economic agenda and foreign policy approach in his address to the large UN gathering of world leaders will be the highest level point of reference and a strong statement of Islamabad’s position on wide-ranging issues. Besides, he said, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is having bilateral meetings with world leaders, including US Vice President Joseph Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

 The foreign secretary said Islamabad has no confirmation that any Pakistani is fighting alongside ISIS militants in Iraq or Syria. Aizaz Chaudhry made it clear that Pakistan is not fighting militants in North Waziristan to satisfy any foreign power but to ensure peace, security and stability on its soil.

“There is no place for terrorists in Pakistan,” he said when questioned about a UN resolution that asks nations to take concrete measures to stem the flow of terrorists and added that Islamabad is already pursuing a range of steps to curb the menace of terrorism. Replying to another question, the foreign secretary said Pakistan has made urgent efforts to bring stranded Pakistanis back from violence-hit Libya.