No role for separatists in Kashmir row

No role for separatists in Kashmir row

No role for separatists in Kashmir row

India on Wednesday ruled out any role for the separatists in resolving its row with Pakistan over Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi sought to legitimise participation of the Hurriyat Conference leaders by calling them stakeholders in the dispute and justifying his consultations with them.

The war of words between the two neighbouring countries escalated on Wednesday. Invoking the Simla Agreement of 1972, New Delhi stated that the governments of India and Pakistan were the only stakeholders in the issue of Kashmir.

“After 1972 and the signing of the Simla Agreement by the prime minister of India and prime minister of Pakistan, there are only two stakeholders in the issue of Jammu and Kashmir – the Union of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said, adding: “This is a principle which is the bedrock of our bilateral relations.”

He articulated New Delhi’s stand soon after Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, sought to justify his meetings with the separatist leaders of Kashmir on Monday and Tuesday, saying that “engaging with all stakeholders” was the “bottom-line” of Islamabad’s approach to resolving its dispute with Kashmir.

“We need to engage with all stakeholders. It is not a question of either, or as far as we are concerned. We are engaging with India to find peaceful ways (to resolve the dispute),” Basit told journalists at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in New Delhi. He also countered India’s allegation against Pakistan for ceasefire violation along the Line of Control, alleging that Indian Army flouted the truce 57 times since July.

“Dialogue is not a favour by Pakistan to India or vice versa,” Basit said, questioning New Delhi’s decision to call off the talks.

The MEA spokesperson said that the principle of the Simla Agreement had again been reaffirmed by the 1999 Lahore Declaration, which Pakistan Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif issued during his earlier tenure jointly with his then Indian counterpart A B Vajpayee.