Talks between the national security advisors of India and Pakistan must be held as scheduled if terrorism has to be tackled, a leader of Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling People’s Democratic Party leader on Friday.
“In order to bring an end to terrorism, the NSA talks must go on,” Waheed-Ur-Rehman Parra, political analyst to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed told IANS over phone from Srinagar.
Asked if Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz’s proposed meeting with Hurriyat leaders could be considered a hurdle to talks with India, he said the engagement between the two countries was more important and talks with Hurriyat should not matter so much.
“It is up to Hurriyat to decide whether they act as a bridge between India and Pakistan. They will have to figure out what they will achieve by going or not going to meet Sartaj Aziz,” Parra said.
Pakistan spokesman said in Islamabad that the country would not accept any “precondition” or “advice” that Aziz should not meet Hurriyat leaders ahead of the August 23-24 meeting of the two national security advisors in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the separatists group told media persons from Srinagar that Hurriyat conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting with the Pakistan NSA — who is also advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs.
The spokesman, Ayaz Akbar, said the meeting was scheduled for August 24, the day after the two-day NSA talks are to begin in New Delhi.
He said that they had received information about timing of the meeting at 8 p.m. on Friday through a mail from the Pakistan High Commission.
“The meeting will be held at the residence of the High Commissioner Abdul Basit at 9.30 a.m. on Aug 24,” Akbar told IANS.
He said Geelani will fly to Delhi on Aug 24 morning to meet Aziz but will not attend the reception hosted by the high commission on Aug 23.
The intimation about the timing of the meeting was conveyed to Geelani even as India declared on Friday that “unilateral imposition of new conditions and distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward” with the NSA level talks with Pakistan but stopped short of calling off the dialogue.
Parra said the Hurriyat would help matters more by staying away ahead of the talks.
“It is up to them (Hurriyat) to decide whether they want to promote dialogue by absence or discourage it by (their) presence….”
The Hurriyat Conference, however, says that their talks with Pakistan were “nothing new” and that the BJP-led central government’s approach on Kashmir was unacceptable.
“The BJP’s approach in addressing the Kashmir issue is not practical. It is a fanatical approach which is not acceptable,” Akbar said.
“Hurriyat has been in talks with Pakistan since long and Pakistan’s invitation over NSA talks is nothing new,” he added.
Talking about the Hurriyat’s agenda for the meeting with the Pakistan NSA, Akbar said: “We will ask for constitutional guarantee over addressing the Kashmir issue from Pakistan.”
He said they would also ask Pakistan to make their diplomatic roles “more pro-active in addressing the Kashmir issue. And to ensure that in future Pakistan does not step back from showing serious concern about Kashmir.”
Leaders of Hurriyat’s both factions, headed by Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, respectively, as well as other separatist leaders Yasin Malik and Naeem Khan, have been invited to the reception being hosted by the high commissioner on August 23 in honour of Aziz.