India Erases ‘Red Line’ on Kashmir

New Delhi: In a major policy shift, India has quietly retracted from its controversial “red line” with Pakistan. Two years after imposing a policy whereby Pakistani officials meeting Hurriyat leaders was a distinct “no-no”, India has officially walked back from this position, as it has become increasingly untenable.
In a written answer to Parliament last week, minister of state for external affairs VK Singh had stated, “Since the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Union of India and these so-called Kashmiri ‘leaders’ are Indian citizens, there is no bar on their meetings with representatives of any country in India.”
He, however, clarified that there could be no role for any third party in the India-Pakistan dialogue process. “India has consistently maintained that there is no role for a third party in the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan as per the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. 
India’s displeasure at Pakistan’s attempts to interfere in India’s internal affairs has been repeatedly conveyed to Pakistan,” he added.
In August 2014, the Modi government imposed a new pre-condition to talks with Pakistan, cancelling foreign secretary talks on the argument that the Pakistani high commissioner had met Hurriyat leaders before the official talks. That added a new, belligerent dimension to the bilateral dynamic.
 “This is a red line we have drawn,” the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson had said at the time, quoted The Hindu. “We have told Pakistan — you either talk to us, or to them [Kashmiri separatists].”
A year later, in August 2015, Pakistan cancelled National Security Advisor (NSA)-level talks with India, after the Indian government insisted that Pak NSA Sartaj Aziz would not be allowed to meet with Hurriyat Conference leaders during his visit.
UN Peace Building Commission last week had taken a hands-off approach on Kashmir, saying that the primacy of politics and the local conditions that drive any negotiations between India and Pakistan have to be “respected.”
Hurriyat Conference (G) criticised the United Nations’ Kashmir statement, saying respecting wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people were more important.
Geelani had termed Kamau’s remarks as “ambiguous”, saying, “Respecting the wishes and sacrifices of Kashmiri people is more important than the political and local situations in the dialogue process of India and Pakistan. Ignoring the views of Kashmiris will be the murder of justice”.
He said instead of finding any solution in context of the local, domestic, and political environment between India and Pakistan, Kashmir issue should be resolved in its historical perspective and in context of its ground situation.


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