As the India-Pakistan NSA-level talks hit a deadlock on Friday, both separatist and mainstream party leaders in Kashmir termed it “unfortunate” and pointed out that the practice of Hurriyat leaders meeting Pakistani leaders was not new.
Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani blamed the “stubbornness of India”, adding that the Indian leadership “has been corrupted by power”.
Watch Video: Deadlock In India-Pakistan NSA Talks
“This is not a new practice, we have been meeting the (Pakistani) leaders for a long time. But unfortunately, India’s foreign policy is being decided by media channels… We blame the Indian government for the deadlock,” said Hurriyat (M) spokesperson Shahid Ul Islam.
Stating that the Centre does not want to give political space to the separatist leadership, Islam said “the result is that more and more youth are now choosing violence.”
Watch Video: India Takes A Tough Stand: India- Pak NSA Talks Called Off?
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik said it was the legitimate right of the Kashmiri people to be a part of the talks between the two countries. “If these talks get cancelled, it is very unfortunate,” he said. “Across the globe, when any dialogue takes place, all the stakeholders are called to the table. But if some people are saying that Kashmiri leaders should not be included in the talks, then it is the biggest insult to the people of Kashmir.”
“It is very disappointing for both the countries, especially for the people of Jammu & Kashmir,” said National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammed Sagar.
“India shouldn’t make the meeting a prestige issue as Hurriyat leaders have been meeting the Pakistan high commissioner since 1984. Pakistan should also soften its stand,” he said.
Sagar said the NSA-level dialogue was the first step towards improving the situation, but “it is unfortunate that both countries have hardened their stand.”
State Congress vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga said both Delhi and Islamabad were not serious about the talks. “If they would have been serious, they would have come up with a solution,” he said, adding that the role of the Hurriyat leadership could not be ignored.
PDP chief spokesperson Mehboob Beig said it would be “unfortunate” if the talks were cancelled. “The invitation to Hurriyat leaders by the Pakistan high commission is not a new thing. It happened during Congress regime as well,” he said. “India and Pakistan have to live together and there is no other option then to talk with each other.”
War of words
What India said:
“…Pakistan took 22 days to respond to the Indian proposal to meet in New Delhi. It then proposed an agenda that was at complete variance with what the two PMs had agreed upon in Ufa… Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process. Even more significantly…the Pakistani High Commissioner invited Hurriyat representatives to consult with the visiting NSA. This provocative action was completely in consonance with Pakistan’s desire to evade its commitment at Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism. The Ufa understanding… was very clear: the NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. This was the only agenda set…The insistence on meeting Hurriyat as a precondition is also a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. India has always held the position that there are only two stakeholders in our relationship, not three.”
“India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr Sartaj Aziz to meet Hurriyat representatives during his visit to India as it would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism. We have also sought confirmation of our understanding of the agenda for the NSA-level talks that was conveyed to the Pakistani side on 18 August 2015.”
What Pakistan said:
“The Pakistan High Commissioner’s invitation to the Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership… was very much in keeping with the tradition… Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established practice. After all, the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders are genuine stakeholders in efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute. For India to refuse to engage in talks… on this pretext is a repeat of what it did when it cancelled the Foreign Secretary level talks… For the NSA talks, Pakistan had proposed a comprehensive agenda, consistent with the decisions taken by the two PMs in Ufa, which included discussion on…Kashmir, as well as terrorism related matters, and other issues such as religious tourism, release of fishermen and peace on the LoC. However, regrettably, the Indian side’s desire to restrict the agenda to terrorism related issues only, amounts to a negation of the decisions taken by the two PMs.
“Responding to the “advice” of Government of India, conveyed by their High Commissioner that Mr Sartaj Aziz may not meet the Hurriyat leaders, the Foreign Secretary conveyed…that it would not be possible for Pakistan to accept this advice…India’s insistence to introduce conditionalities and restrict the agenda… demonstrates a lack of seriousness on India’s part to meaningfully engage with Pakistan.
HC relief for Masarat Alam
The J&K High Court Friday quashed the Public Safety Act charges against Hurriyat (G) leader and Muslim League chairman Masarat Alam. The court also directed the government to release Alam from detention.