Talks Still On Despite Hurriyat Invite: India

NEW DELHI: The NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan will take place despite Pakistani High Commission inviting Kashmiri separatist leaders to meet Sartaj Aziz. Aziz who is coming here to hold talks with his Indian counterpart National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Sunday.

Well placed sources told Kashmir Observer that New Delhi has not reacted after Pakistan assured Indian authorities that Hurriyat leaders have been invited to reception being hosted by the Pak mission for the visiting dignitary and not for talks with him. 

India had last year cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan after its High Commissioner invited Kashmiri leaders for a meeting ahead of the talks.

The then spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin had said , “This is a red line we have drawn… We have told Pakistan — you either talk to us, or to them (Kashmiri separatists)”. 

This time round invitations have been sent to all key Hurriyat leaders of both Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani factions.

Aziz will visit New Delhi on August 23 for dialogue with his counterpart Ajit Doval. India had proposed August 23-24 for the meeting in line with an agreement between Premier Nawaz and his counterpart Narendra Modi in Russia last month.

The attack on a police station in Gurdaspur Punjab, on July 27 delayed the immediate resumption of talks.

On Tuesday, finalising a strategy for the upcoming NSA interaction, the top civil and military leadership in Pakistan agreed to adopt an aggressive stance on terrorism related issues but a give-and-take approach on bilateral disputes.  It was proposed that Aziz should take up the issue of the release of Samjhota Express incident’s mastermind, India’s involvement in Balochistan and Afghanistan and its violation of ceasefire at the Line of Control and the working boundary.

The civil-military also agreed that the outcome of the NSA’s meeting should not be ambiguous or one-sided but rather they should send a clear message to all stakeholders, according to the Pakistani media reports.

However, Indian former union minister, Yashwant Sinha, claimed the talks between the two advisers will be a ”dialogue of the deaf” and there will be no outcome.

Sinha said the Bharaiya Janata Party (BJP) had deviated from its stated policy pertaining to talks with Pakistan. ”This has been a clearly stated policy of BJP that terror and talks do not go together,” he said, according to India Today.

“You say you (Pakistan) are promoting terrorism against India, they will say you are promoting terrorism against Pakistan. You will say you committed 26/11 and then they will point to Samjhauta Express blast. For every dossier, they will have a counter dossier,” he said.

“Therfore, these talks at the NSA level will be a dialogue of the deaf. There will be no outcome and we will be exactly where we are before the talks,” the BJP leader added.

“This is deliberate attempt to irritate India,” said S Chandrasekharan, director of the South Asia Analysis Group in New Delhi, according to Reuters.

‘Talks Over Dinner’

“We have sent invitations for talks over dinner to all the Kashmiri resistance leaders and we look forward to seeing them,” the spokesman to Pakistan High Commission in India, Manzoor Ali Memon, said. 

Memon said Pakistan always invited Kashmiri leaders for consultations ahead of any talks with India. 

“As a sovereign country, we are free to choose to talk to who we want and we will talk to the Kashmiris. And there are reports that seem to suggest that we are calling them only for dinner which is absurd. We can’t call the leaders just to have dinner with them. Of course there will be talks and consultations with them,” Memon said. 

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