Soon after the Centre called off the scheduled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, all parties in Kashmir described the decision as unfortunate and lacking merit.
The Congress, National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the “negative” development would benefit no one, and the separatist Hurriyat said New Delhi had demonstrated it was not “sincere” about resolving the Kashmir issue.
“When Hurriyat (leaders) went to Pakistan the last time, they (the BJP) raised their voice against it. We only reminded them of that,” state Congress president Saif-ud-din Soz told The Indian Express. “They (the Centre) should have registered their disapproval to Pakistan, but not cancelled the talks.”
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The Congress’s partner in the state government, the NC, said the “sudden U-turn” would not “benefit the country or the state”.
“This (meeting of separatists with Pak high commissioners) has been a practice for more than 15 years. Before the Agra summit (of 2001), they (Hurriyat leaders) met Musharraf sahib when Vajpayee sahib was the Prime Minister,” NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said. “The channel of talks should not have been closed.”
The PDP said the talks had been cancelled on “filmsy” grounds. “It is a highly negative development that casts a shadow on the atmosphere of reconciliation generated by the invitation to Nawaz Sharif during Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in ceremony,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said.
“It (the meeting of the Pak envoy with separatists) is a very flimsy ground for shelving a bold initiative that was taken by the BJP government in resuming diplomatic talks with Pakistan,” she said.
Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said the Centre’s decision was a “vindication” of the separatist position. “It has vindicated our stand that India is not sincere in resolving the Kashmir issue peacefully,” he said. “There is nothing new in it. We have met Pakistan high commissioners before talks in the past as well. We met President Farooq Leghari in New Delhi. We met Pervez Musharraf before the Agra talks. It only shows the new dispensation in Delhi is not politically mature.”
Pro-independence leader Yasin Malik said that by closing the option of a peaceful resolution, the Centre was pushing the youth towards militancy.
“They (the Centre) have decided to close all kinds of stages for the Kashmiri movement,” Malik said. “By this, they are pushing the new generation to pick up the gun.”
Malik also attacked the Congress for its “double standards”. “When they are in power, they facilitate such meetings, and when they are in opposition, they oppose it.”