Pakistan's Talks With Separatists A Dealbreaker Says India, But Wants NSA Meet To Happen

21/08/2015 4:29 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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India-Pakistan Handshake For Peace

After a day of chaos over the house arrest of several prominent Hurriyat leaders, India finally seems to have got its act together, telling Pakistan in no uncertain terms that holding talks with Kashmiri separatists during the bilateral discussions of the national security avisors of the two nuclear-enabled nations, will not be appropriate.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that India definitely wanted the talks to happen and had conveyed to Pakistan its agenda three days back, response to which was still awaited, PTI reported.

"We want talks to happen. India is ready for talks. We are committed to the talks. Now it is up to them (Pakistan)," he said when asked about the fate of the talks between the National Security Advisors which now looks precariously balanced after Pakistan's invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders for meeting with its NSA Sartaj Aziz.

"We have made it clear to Pakistan that hosting of Kashmiri separatists will be contrary to the spirit of the Ufa understanding. We have conveyed our position on their reported meeting with them (separatists) and sought clarity on the agenda," said Swarup at the sidelines of the Summit of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Conference to be attended by 14 nations.

He said India had also communicated to Pakistan the agenda for the NSA talks and was yet to get any response officially.

In swiftly escalating series of events, just days before the arrival of Aziz in New Delhi to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, both countries upped their rhetoric over Kashmir. Pakistan on Thursday cancelled a conference of lawmakers from Commonwealth countries.

Ayaz Sadid, the speaker of Pakistan's National Assembly, said the conference was called off after India demanded that lawmakers from Jammu and Kashmir be included at the event. The conference had been scheduled to take place in Islamabad on Sept. 30 and 53 countries had confirmed their participation, AP reported. Sadid said Kashmir is a disputed region and Islamabad would not accede to India's demand.

In a series of tweets on Friday morning, Swarup said India has advised Pakistan that it would not be appropriate for Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India. Such a meeting would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism, he said.

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READ: India-Pakistan Agree To Eliminate Terrorism In All Its Forms

The Narendra Modi-led government had called off foreign secretary-level talks last August on the pretext that Pakistan had "consulted" with separatist groups before the talks, reported Times of India.

An unfazed Pakistan however said they will not be "browbeaten on Kashmir". Unnamed Pakistan government sources told NDTV that "the so-called Indian red lines will not dictate Pakistan agenda." The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman said "there is nothing unusual in such meetings and it has been normal practice for Pakistan to consult Hurriyat leaders prior to high level meeting with India".

On Friday, there was a flurry of activities as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting, attended by country's Army chief Raheel Sharif, Aziz and the ISI chief Rizwan Akhtar, and in New Delhi, NSA Ajit Doval met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

READ: Pakistan Cancels Commonwealth Conference To Highlight 'Kashmir Issue'

READ: Complete Chaos As Kashmiri Separatists Placed Under House Arrest For Two Hours

On Thursday, Kashmiri separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who were among those invited by the Pakistan High Commission for a meeting with national security advisor Sartaj Aziz, were placed under house arrest for a couple of hours. They were later released after the government faced criticism for its action.

According to reports, the government detained separatist leaders to stop them from going to Delhi and meet Aziz.

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Politicians React

Meanwhile, the Congress Party on Friday accused the NDA government of messing up India's foreign policy.

"I am deeply disappointed with Foreign Secretary Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they have completely messed up the foreign policy," said Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit. He also said that the government is unclear about its agenda in dealing with the Hurriyat.

"In the past also, people from Pakistan come. They met the Hurriyat leaders, and, if you are changing that tactic, it should be a well thought out system," Dikshit told ANI.

NC leader Farooq Abdullah urged separatist leaders not to meet Aziz so that the two countries can find a way of ending tensions along the border in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I request them (separatists) not to meet Aziz and let the National Security Adviser-level talks go ahead between the two countries... may be something comes out of these talks that will (deal with) cross-border shelling," the former J-K chief minister said.

Abdullah said that if the talks are called off by India, cross-border shelling would resume, "may be, with added intensity".

He, meanwhile, slammed "vested interests" in both India and Pakistan for being opposed to peace prevailing in J-K. (With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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