New Delhi: India on Wednesday rejected Pakistan's proposal to hold Foreign Secretary-level talks on Kashmir and made it clear that terrorism was "central" to its relations with Islamabad, whose different view and attitude has made it difficult for bilateral ties to grow.
Responding to Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry's invitation, India's Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar expressed his willingness to travel to Islamabad to discuss aspects related to cross-border terrorism which are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
The response, which was handed over to Pakistan Foreign Ministry by Indian envoy to Islamabad Gautam Bambawale, also maintained that the neighbouring country has no locus standi in addressing any aspect of the situation in J&K, which is an internal matter of India, except to put an end to cross-border terrorism and infiltration.
Later talking to the media here, Jaishankar said India has made great efforts to reach out to Pakistan but it clearly faces a unique challenge in Pakistan's response.
"Terrorism issue has become so central to the relationship that it makes the ties difficult to grow," the Foreign Secretary said.
He also hit out at Pakistan, saying while rest of the region is with India in wanting a much more cooperative and connected South Asia, a "standout country's" view and attitude towards terrorism as an instrument of policy of diplomacy makes it a "difficult partner" in the region.
Noting that India has faced a number of cross-border infiltrations and attacks, Jaishankar said during one such assault a Pakistani terrorist was also caught, clearly showing the neighbour's involvement.
Earlier, while rejecting Pakistan's offer for talks on Kashmir, government sources said that since aspects related to cross-border terrorism are central to the current situation in J&K, India has proposed that discussions between the Foreign Secretaries be focused on them.
"We have also conveyed that Government of India rejects in their entirety the self-serving allegations regarding the situation in J&K, which is an integral part of India where Pakistan has no locus standi," the sources added.
Pakistan had on Monday invited India for talks on Kashmir, saying it is the "international obligation" of both the countries to resolve the issue.
The invitation was extended amid tension in bilateral ties due to the war of words between the two nations over the continuing unrest in Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have been engaged in a war of words over the statements by Islamabad on the situation in Kashmir which is witnessing a turmoil following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last month.
Wani was hailed as a martyr by Pakistan, which also tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the country's foreign office writing to a host of countries besides the United Nations, while India has been maintaining that Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the Valley is the root cause of the turbulence.