The organisers of the "South Asia 2060" conference, the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Initiatives, said Ms. Mehbooba had applied for the visa only four days ago and her papers could not be processed in time for her departure.

Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the People’s Democratic Party, has had to cancel her participation in a conference here after she was unable to obtain a visa to travel to Pakistan.

The organisers of the “South Asia 2060” conference, the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Initiatives, said Ms. Mehbooba had applied for the visa only four days ago and her papers could not be processed in time for her departure.

However, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was able to process a visa for the former Jammu University Vice-Chancellor Amitabh Mattoo, another participant at the same conference. He applied at the same time as the Kashmiri leader.

A group of 20 other Indians is also participating in the two-day conference.

The Pakistan High Commission gave no reasons for not giving the Kashmir politician a visa. According to reports from New Delhi, Ms. Mehbooba seems to think it was rejected on account of the delicate security situation prevailing in Pakistan.

The development has caused a flutter among Kashmir observers here, but is seen as not entirely unexpected. The leader of the PDP, which is the main Opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir, had positioned herself as a Kashmiri leader who had Pakistan’s backing, especially after her last visit here in March 2008, when she was granted an audience with all the leaders of the newly elected democratic set-up there.

The separatist lobby in Kashmir was angered by the enthusiastic welcome to her, as they saw it as another sign of Pakistan’s embrace, at their expense, of Kashmiri politicians in the Indian mainstream.