Kashmiri leaders not a ‘third party’: Sharif

Says any dialogue sans Kashmir will be futile

ISLAMABAD: Two days after a scheduled meeting between the national security advisers of Pakistan and India was called off, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said any dialogue between the two countries without the Kashmir dispute figuring will be pointless.

He also asserted that the Hurriyat leaders were not a “third party”.

“Kashmiri leaders are not the third party but an important party to this issue. Any decision on their future cannot be made without their opinion and consultation,” Sharif said during a cabinet meeting.

The prime minister told the cabinet that any dialogue with India without Kashmir issue would be futile, the Dawn reported.

Sharif’s comments came just days after Pakistan called off the National Security Advisers-level talks at last minute after India asked it to give a commitment that it would not meet Kashmiri leaders.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz briefed Sharif and cabinet colleagues over the cancellation of talks. The cabinet also discussed the security situation in the country.

Aziz was scheduled to travel to India on August 23 for the first-ever NSA-level talks with his counterpart Ajit Doval but he called off the visit just hours before the proposed dialogue.

Pakistan high commission in New Delhi had invited Hurriyat leaders for a reception on August 23 and Sartaj Aziz had planned to separately meet Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, before his scheduled talks with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. India had objected to this.

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