A dainikbhaskar.com interview, which the newspaper claimed was Ajit Doval’s first interview after taking that post, has caused a kerfuffle in diplomatic circles after the National Security Advisor was quoted as saying that peace talks between India and Pakistan have been cancelled.
Doval has denied giving any such interview.
At the heart of the matter is the comment that the peace talks between India and Pakistan foreign secretaries scheduled for January 15 have been cancelled and that no talks would be held until Pakistan takes action against suspects in the recent terror attack on the Pathankot airforce base in India.
"No talks before action", Doval is quoted as saying.
News agency ANI, however, tweeted that Doval has said he does not remember giving any such interview. In response, ABP News provided a link to an audio recording of the interview.
In a separate comment to NDTV, too, Doval is quoted as saying that peace talks would take place "only if Pakistan takes action", adding that the dates for talks have not yet been fixed.
The Indian government has not officially called off the talks.
Responding to the question of what had gone wrong in the Pathankot operations despite prior intelligence being available, Doval said that this was not a time to demoralise the efforts of the armed forces and security agencies. Instead, he said, it could be said that due to their efforts, the attackers were unable to cause any major damage to the base. Doval also urged people to learn a lesson from the attacks in France in November last year.
Screenshot of Dainik Bhaskar interview (Photo: dainikbhaskar.com)
Doval said that the Paris attacks could also be considered an intelligence failure but after that incident no French leader spoke against their security agencies and there were no negative comments issued.
The NSA also refused to comment on any link between Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise stopover in Lahore to attend Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter’s wedding and the attack.
We have received assurance of quick action, Doval is quoted as saying in the interview, as he explained that the Indian side has provided evidence to the Sharif government regarding the terrorists. However, he said there was no timeline set in stone for such an action.
Doval also blamed political self-interest for India's inability to bring its full power to bear upon its adversaries in such situations. However, he did not name any particular political party or any single politician.