Ending the suspense over the NSA-level talks scheduled in New Delhi on 23-24 August, Pakistan said on Saturday night that it could not be held on the "basis of the preconditions set by India".
"The scheduled NSA level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India," Pakistan said in a statement.
Earlier, a war of words ensued between the two neighbours over the involvement of Kashmiri separatist leaders in the dialogue process. After Pakistan National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz said that he was willing to visit New Delhi for the talks if India did not set any preconditions, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj replied tersely that the dialogue would not be possible if Pakistan involved any third party.
India toughened its stand against Pakistan's insistance to involve Kashmir issue in the NSA-level talks as Sushma Swaraj replied to Sartaj Aziz's demand that there should be no precondition set by the hosts. "We are not setting any precondition, they are setting preconditions," the minister said insisting India was only following the Simla Pact and the recent Ufa Agreement.
"Do they have any spirit of the Simla Agreement? They want Hurriyat leaders to be stakeholders in talks even when the agreement specified that there should be no third party involved," Swaraj said at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday evening.
Referring to Pakistan's insistence on bringing up the Kashmir issue, Swaraj said that "India is not running away from dialogue on Kashmir, but it cannot happen in an environment of violence".
She mentioned that Pakistan had violated ceasefire 91 times since the Ufa Agreement between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif last month.
Swaraj's remarks effectively closed the doors on Pakistan, given that India has not conceded to any of Pakistan's demands.
Earlier in the day, Sartaj Aziz had maintained that he would visit India only if there were no preconditions, including the one on not allowing him to meet Kashmiri separatists. He had said that Pakistan would not go ahead with the talks if Kashmir was not the core agenda.
Sushma Swaraj had asked Pakistan to reply by Saturday midnight whether it wants to go ahead with the talks.