Pak continues to host separatist leaders

Pak continues to host separatist leaders

Pakistan on Tuesday continued to host separatist leaders from Kashmir at its High Commission in New Delhi, ignoring the strong disapproval shown by India, which just a day earlier had called off the foreign secretary-level dialogue between the two countries as a mark of protest.

Abdul Basit, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, met three separatist leaders from Kashmir — Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who lead separate factions of the Hurriyat Conference, as well as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik.

Islamabad claimed that it did not require permission from New Delhi to seek the views of the leaders from Kashmir, as Pakistan was a party to the dispute over the state and did not recognise it as a part of India.

The separatist leaders slammed the Modi government’s decision to call off the India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks scheduled for next week.

They said Pakistani leaders and diplomats had been meeting them for a long time, and such consultations had taken place in New Delhi not only during the 10-year tenure of Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh, but also when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister.

“We had been talking (to the representatives of Pakistan government) during the Congress regime as well as during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

There is nothing new in it,” Geelani, who leads the hard-line faction of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, told journalists shortly after arriving in New Delhi for the meeting with Basit. “India should not have done it. The cause cited to cancel the talks is not genuine,” he said.

Malik said Kashmiris had a legitimate right to have their say in and be part of parleys between India and Pakistan.

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