Hurriyat has no stake in peace process, India counters Pakistan

It was another day of acrimonious exchanges between India and Pakistan on Wednesday with the External Affairs Ministry rejecting Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s statement calling the Hurriyat a “stakeholder” in the peace process.

The statement came a few hours after Mr. Basit held a press conference in New Delhi, defending his meeting with the Hurriyat leaders on August 18 and 19 that made India cancel the talks scheduled with Pakistan.

“There are only two stakeholders on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir — the Union of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. None else,” Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

“The objective of interacting with Kashmiri leaders is precisely to talk to all the stakeholders to find a viable, peaceful solution to the problem,” he said.

Each side has hardened its positions on the subject of meetings Pakistani officials had with Kashmiri separatists. Senior Pakistan government officials told The Hindu that they believed the Indian government had decided not to go ahead with the talks for the “foreseeable future.” “Meeting with Kashmiri leaders is a part of Pakistan’s core beliefs. No Pakistani government can accept the Indian government’s decision to block that,” one of them said.

Indian officials say Pakistan will have to recognise the “new reality.” “While they can continue to meet whomever they like, they can no longer attempt to triangulate the talks by openly and brazenly speaking to Kashmiri leaders just before their talks with India,” a government source said.

Pakistani government sources who spoke to The Hindu said Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh’s ultimatum to Mr. Basit to cancel the meeting with Hurriyat leaders came at 3.45 p.m. on Monday “when Mr. Shabir Shah had already arrived at the High Commission for his appointment at 4 p.m. and could not be turned away.” External Affairs Ministry officials, however, refused to confirm the time of Ms. Singh’s call to Mr. Basit, but said Mr. Basit had been given “adequate time to act.”

The immediate casualty of the new positions seems to be possible talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York in September, unless a compromise is worked out.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 12:32:37 am |