Expressing disappointment at the cancellation of proposed foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti today said it is a highly negative development that casts a shadow on the atmosphere of reconciliation generated by the invitation to Nawaz Sharief in swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a statement issued on Monday evening, she said meeting between Pakistan high commissioner and Hurriyat leaders is nothing new and it is a very flimsy ground for shelving bold initiative that was taken by BJP government in resuming diplomatic talks with Pakistan.
Mehbooba said inspite of the realization that there is no alternative to dialogue between two countries, it is beyond comprehension as to what is achieved by such knee jerk reaction to the routine events like the Pakistan high commission invite to separatists which has been a tradition for many years. She said such meetings have taken place during Congress led government and also during the previous NDA government led by Vajpayee. “If this could be tolerated then it makes hardly any sense for them now to be seen as provocative.”
Mehbooba said the Indo-Pak relations have become cat and mouse game between BJP and Congress and both try to create hurdles in normalization process when they are in opposition. She said if Sharm-al-Shiekh was sabotaged by BJP, it is now the Congress which has taken it upon itself to subvert the Modi initiative for resumption of talks. “In the process Jammu and Kashmir continues to suffer the hostility between the two countries and the people of the state obviously feel saddened.”
Meanwhile, with Government of India (GOI) on Monday called off foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan scheduled next week, sending out a strong message that its envoy’s engagement with Kashmiri separatist leaders was unacceptable, ruling National Conference termed the decision ‘inappropriate’.
It is not the question whether you condemn it or not, what we believe is that when the separatists had been meeting Pakistan in the past, why the questions are being raised over the process at present, NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar told KNS.
He maintained further that holding meeting is not a big issue at all and not this much serious that the foreign secretary talks have been called off all of a sudden. “The separatists have often been meeting the Pakistan. They even go to Iftaar parties and Pakistan day. They have been meeting the Pakistan high commissioner and the same was a routine, what they issue is turning out to be of a serious nature is beyond understanding,” Sagar said.
He added that when the BJP is claiming to adopt the policy of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee vis-à-vis Kashmir, why is taking the steps in reluctance. He said that during Vajpayee’s tenure, separatists met Musharaf several times and also held meetings with Vajpayee over Kashmir. “Our stand is that talks can take us further and open up the new horizons. We have to talk so that issues could be amicably resolved.”