- National Security Adviser says India is perpetrating terrorism against Pakistan
- Adds there was no meeting between him and the Indian NSA
Pakistan's National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf said on Saturday that the dispute of Kashmir and terrorism remain Pakistan's core concerns with India.
In an interview with the Indian media outlet The Wire, Yusuf also said that contact initiated by India led to the ceasefire between the two countries at the Line of Control (LoC) earlier this year.
This is the second time Yusuf has given an interview to an Indian news outlet since India repealed occupied Kashmir's special status in 2019. Indian journalist Karan Thapar interviewed Yusuf virtually.
Earlier this year, Pakistan and India agreed to cease military hostilities along the LoC by restoring a 2003 truce to deescalate tensions.
"India reached out to Pakistan with the willingness to talk," said Yusuf during the interview. "The contact was made from their side and we responded. The bare minimum they agreed was the ceasefire - this was just a contact and no backchannel."
Talking about India's intent to talk to Pakistan, Yusuf said that we should give credit where it's due. "It a good thing that a country [India] saw the need to talk to a neighbour [Pakistan]," he said, adding that "perhaps, a mistake was made from India, which needed to be rectified."
Describing the role of backchannel contacts, he said "contact was made" between the two countries at India's request. "Pakistan did reciprocate by asking a simple question: what is it that India is willing to do to ensure that it does right by the Kashmiris to move forward. And if it is sincere, Pakistan is ready to move forward and that’s really what the contact was," he explained.
When asked about India's core concerns in the backchannel contacts, Yusuf said that "only New Delhi can answer that question."
"You will have to ask the Indian government because their core concerns are changing very fast," he added.
On Thapar's question regarding Pakistan's core concerns, Yusuf said: "For Pakistan, there are two main concerns. Number one is Kashmir, and it has always been. It will always be there, till Kashmiris get their right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions."
"We have made it clear to India that we will stand with Kashmiris till the end," the national security adviser said, reiterating Pakistan's longstanding position on the issue.
"There is going to be no change on that, whatsoever," Yusuf emphasised. "The second concern for Pakistan is terrorism.
"I want to make sure that everybody understands it. Terrorism is Pakistan’s core concern, and this is a very important facet of Pakistan’s policy towards India," he emphasized.
Speaking further on the issue of terrorism, the NSA said that "we need India to understand that we know that India is perpetrating terrorism against Pakistan in Pakistan, and it is unacceptable".
"I don’t know what India’s core concerns are, but terrorism and Kashmir are Pakistan’s core concerns," he told Thapar.
Thapar asked Yusuf if he can confirm reports related to contact between the intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan, including National Security Advisors, and whether these contacts helped facilitate the ceasefire.
In response, Yusuf said that Pakistan and India had backchannels in the past, but this was not one.
“Let me clarify, we had contacts, not a backchannel,” he stressed.
“This was a contact made by the Indian side to us, and we reciprocated by asking how you are planning to reverse the unilateral illegal actions in Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and that’s where the conversation was.”
He further clarified that there was no meeting between him and the Indian NSA, Ajit Doval, and any reports claiming otherwise are untrue.
When asked if India’s NSA met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Yusuf said that “intelligence level contacts happen even during the worst of circumstances.
"They were made this time but who was there from the Indian side -- frankly, I would protect that because that is for India to decide whether they want to reveal or not.”
“If I do it, it would reveal who calls the shots in India,” he said.
When asked if these contacts took place in Dubai and if the Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, represented Pakistan, Yusuf said its “irrelevant".
"The real issue is we have a problem on our hands. Pakistan and India are neighbours. Pakistan wants to move forward, but as Prime Minister Imran Khan recently said, unfortunately, the RSS ideology [Hindu nationalist] has come in the way," Yusuf said.
Describing the role of third parties, Yusuf said that Pakistan’s standard position is that any third party, which wants to help resolve the issue of Kashmir, is always welcome.
Answering a question regarding the role of any country to push India to engage with Pakistan, Yusuf said, "I have a sense that there was some pressure put on India, but again I can not confirm that because I was not in the room.”
"We don’t know how much pressure was put on India, why India addressed, what was told to them, whether they succumb to pressure, we don’t know," he added.
"Only New Delhi can say who put the pressure on them," he said.
Explaining General Bajwa's recent remarks on extending a hand of peace and resolving the issue of Kashmir in a dignified way, Yusuf said there is nothing new here as Pakistan's leadership has said it many times.
“Pakistan Army chief has said it many times that we want a civilized relationship with India.
"Pakistan is on a path to geo-economic success. We are moving in a direction where we want connectivity, development partnerships, and peace with the world."
Yusuf told Thapar that the BJP-led government has a declared agenda to isolate Pakistan internationally.
Last week, the Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar admitted that New Delhi had used the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for political gains. "Pakistan is on the grey list of the FATF because of the efforts of Narendra Modi's government," Jaishankar had said.
Before concluding the interview, Yusuf expressed grief at the massive devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in India, and invited Thapar to visit Pakistan.