The Union Government of India has categorically conveyed to Pakistan that it should not go ahead with the meeting between its Prime Ministers’s advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz and the Kashmiri separatist leaders. The latter represented by Hurriyat Conference has accepted Pakistan High Commission’s invitation to meet Sartaj Aziz on the evening of August 23, the same day scheduled for the NSA talks.
“India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Sartaz Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the press early on Friday.
And soon after, Pakistan government too lent a sharp reaction asserting their talks with the Hurriyat is on. Pakistan government also said that talks between India and Pakistan are “not based on conditional diplomacy”.
Back home, the MEA spokesperson further added that such a meeting would not be the “spirit and intent of the understanding reached at UFA”. The spokesperson was referring to the “understanding” chalked out in the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of SCO Summit at Russia on July 10.
But even before the MEA spokesperson came out announcing the formal stand, NDA government had expressed its displeasure over the Pakistan High Commission’s invite to the Kashmiri separatist leaders late on Tuesday night.
“Let’s see what happens… The government will respond appropriately,” government sources had earlier said asserting that there are some sections in the Pakistan establishment who want to “scuttle” the Indo-Pak talks and are raking up anti-India activities thereby, pushing India to call off NSA-level talks scheduled for Sunday.
“The invitation should be seen as latest provocative move in that direction,” sources in the government had earlier claimed.
But on its part, Pakistan justified its move to invite the Kashmiri separatists terming the meeting as “routine”.
“We have been meeting and talking to them (Kashmiri leaders). There is nothing unprecedented about it. I don’t understand why there is so much hype,” Manzoor Ali Memon, Counsellor (Press) in Pakistan High Commission told the news agency early on Thursday.
In a related development, the Jammu and Kashmir state government, early on Thursday morning, had placed three Kashmiri separatist leaders of Hurriyat Conference – hardliner SAS Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Abbas Ansari – under the house arrest. Even Yasin Malik, the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was held by the state police.
Though the separatist leaders were set free soon, the move fuelled speculations ahead of the slated NSA-level talks.
The three are now likely to meet Sartaj Aziz on Sunday evening. Following their meeting with Aziz, the separatist leaders will be joining Pakistan envoy in New Delhi for a dinner in Pakistan High Commission.
(With inputs from the PTI)