The Pakistan High Commission has invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for consultations with Sartaj Aziz ahead of the National Security Advisor-level talks with India in New Delhi next week.
The Pakistan High Commission extended the invitation to the separatist leaders including chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference yesterday.
Spokesman of the Geelani-led faction Ayaz Akbar told PTI that "Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani was invited for the talks with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz. A decision on whether to accept the invitation will be taken at a meeting of the Hurriyat Conference."
Akbar said the stand taken by Pakistan was welcome as "they have asserted that there will be no dialogue with India without inclusion of Kashmir issue".
The moderate faction headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also been invited to meet Aziz during his visit to India for talks with National Security Advisor A K Doval. "We are meeting today to take a decision on the issue," a spokesman of the Mirwaiz-led faction said.
Sources in the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat said the meeting today was a formality as "We believe in dialogue as a solution for the Kashmir issue". "We have met Pakistan officials in the past and nothing has changed in recent times to force a rethink," the sources said.
India had last year cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan after its High Commissioner invited separatist leaders for a meeting ahead of the talks.
Doval is scheduled to meet Aziz here for talks on terrorism-related issues for the first time on August 23 in New Delhi, as decided in a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif last month in Ufa in Russia.
India is expected to present strong evidence of terrorism emanating from Pakistan highlighted further by recent attacks in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.
India's case is bolstered by the capture of Mohammed Naved Yakub, a Pakistani national and a LeT operative, who carried out an attack on a BSF bus near Udhampur.
In his early twenties, Naved is from Pakistan's Faislabad area. During the talks, India is expected to share evidence provided by Naved to prove that he is a Pakistani national and crossed-over from Pakistan to carry out terror attacks in the country.
The Narendra Modi government had called off the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan last year after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatist leaders in Delhi.