Kashmiri separatists invited by Pak ahead of NSA talks

RSTV Bureau
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FILE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with NSA Ajit Doval in New Delhi. Photo – PTI

In a development that may add to the contours of the scheduled talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan later this month, Pakistan High Commission has sent an invitation to the Kashmiri separatist leaders for consultations with Sartaj Aziz ahead of his talks with Ajit Doval on August 23. Both the factions of Huriyat Conference received invite from the Pakistan High Commission on Tuesday.

“Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani was invited for the talks with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz. A decision on whether to accept the invitation will be taken at a meeting of the Hurriyat Conference,” Ayaz Akbar, the spokesman of the Geelani-led faction told the news agency in Srinagar.

The separatist leader added that the Huriyat has welcomed the stand taken by Pakistan where they have “asserted” that there will be “no dialogue with India without inclusion of Kashmir issue”.

The moderate faction headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too have been invited to meet Pakistan PM’s advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz during his visit to New Delhi for talks with National Security Advisor AK Doval.

After receiving the invitation, both the factions of Hurriyat Conference held an emergency executive meeting in Srinagar where they decided to attend the function.

“At the outset, we request both India and Pakistan to put an end to the hostilities along the Line of Control and ensure a complete ceasefire. Only innocent people are becoming victims of the tension along the border,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told the press.

The BJP-led Union government is said to be unhappy over the developments, though they strongly asserted that NSA-talks will go on.

“Let’s see what happens… The government will respond appropriately,” government sources 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 claimed.

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FILE: Kashmiri Speratist leader and the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference SAS Geelani in Srinagar earlier this year after been released from house arrest. Photo – PTI

The invite to Kashmiri separatist leaders has a potential of becoming a talking point as India had last year cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan after its High Commissioner invited separatist leaders for a meeting ahead of the talks.

The decision regarding NSA-level meeting between Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz was chalked out after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of SCO Summit in Ufa, Russia on July 10. The NSA-level meet is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on August 23, where Indian side is expected to take up the issue relating to cross-border terror. While on the other hand, Pakistan establishment has already said that “Kashmir issue” must also be on the table.

NSA Ajit Doval is also expected to present strong evidence of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, especially in the case of recent attacks in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. One terrorist Mohammed Naved was arrested in the Udhampur fidayeen attack. He has since confessed of entering the Indian territory after crossing the LoC.

(With inputs from the PTI)