New Delhi: Ahead of talks between their National Security Advisers, India and Pakistan today indulged in a war of words with Islamabad asserting that it will not abandon "the Kashmiris¿ legitimate struggle for freedom", drawing a sharp reaction from New Delhi which said the only struggle in Jammu and Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
"The only struggle in J&K is against Pakistani-sponsored terrorism. This will be the subject of the upcoming NSA-level talks," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
His comments came after Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said his country will not "abandon" the Kashmiris' "legitimate struggle for freedom", stressing that to have normal and cooperative relationship with India it was necessary to settle the decades-old dispute.
Basit made the remarks in his address during an event here to mark Pakistan's Independence Day. "Aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir could neither be ignored nor put on the back burner. No matter how much more time their legitimate struggle takes, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause," Basit said.
Asserting that "Pakistan has always wanted to have a normal and cooperative relationship with India," he said, "To this end, it was necessary to settle all the outstanding issues, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to improve relations."
National Security Adviser is scheduled to meet his Pakistan counterpart Sartaz Aziz here for talks on terrorism- related issues for the first time on August 23 in New Delhi, as decided in a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif last month in Ufa in Russia.
During his brief speech after hoisting the country's national flag at the Chancery amid a sudden spell of showers, Basit also dwelt on the challenges faced by Pakistan on the economic front and its "fight" against terrorism, saying that the country's economy was showing "encouraging" signs of recovery.
India is expected to present strong evidence of terrorism emanating from Pakistan highlighted further by recent attacks in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. India's case is bolstered by the capture of Mohammed Naved Yakub, a Pakistani national and a LeT operative, who carried out an attack on a BSF bus last week near Udhampur.