Talks In Tatters As India Tells Pak In No Uncertain Terms It's NOT OK To Meet Kashmiri Separatists

21/08/2015 1:48 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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A Pakistani Ranger stands guard at the Indo-Pak Joint Border Check post at Wagah on, May 20, 2008. Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan held talks on May 20, 2008 aimed at kickstarting their slow-moving peace process, in the first such contact since a new civilian government took power in Islamabad. AFP PHOTO /Narinder NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

After a day of dilemma 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 separatists during the bilateral discussions of the national security avisors of the two nuclear-enabled nations, will not be appropriate.

As a result, the NSA-level talks themselves are now in jeopardy. In swiftly escalating series of events, just days before the arrival of Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaz 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, Vikas Swarup, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs 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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