India sent out a strong signal to Pakistan on Thursday by detaining Kashmiri separatists to show its displeasure over an invite to them for a meeting with that country’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz.
Aziz will be in New Delhi on Sunday for formal talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. However, the issue of inviting separatists by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi again turned into a battle of nerves as an unfazed Islamabad said it is a “long standing practice”.
In Jammu and Kashmir, several Hurriyat leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar were put under house arrest. The police also took JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik into preventive custody. They were, however, released later.
The government’s action came a day after Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, invited the separatists for a reception he would host for Aziz.
Aziz’s meeting with Doval on Monday is a follow-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parleys with Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit at Ufa on July 10. The two leaders had agreed that their security advisers would meet to discuss “all issues connected to terrorism”.
New Delhi is of the view that Islamabad is again trying to provoke Modi government by seeking to hold consultations with separatists ahead of the NSA-level talks.
However, Pakistan said the invite to separatists is a “common practice”. “Meeting with Kashmiri leaders and inviting them to various occasions that are hosted by our High Commissioner is a long standing practice... and meeting with Kashmiri leaders is common practice before consultations and talks between the two countries,” PTI quoted Qazi Khalilullah, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, saying in Islamabad.
Modi government had reacted strongly to a similar invitation by Pakistan’s envoy to separatists in August 2014 and it called off a proposed meeting between foreign secretaries of the two countries.
Meanwhile, New Delhi is understood to have informally conveyed to Islamabad that it would not object to Aziz meeting separatists if it happens after talks with Doval. It would be “unacceptable” if Aziz meets separatists before meeting his Indian counterpart, said an official.
Pak refuses to host CW meet
Pakistan on Thursday backed out of hosting next month’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Union meeting here after India threatened a boycott if the J&K Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta, was not invited, reports PTI from Islamabad. The conference will now be held in New York.