After India pulled out of talks with her close neighbour and an important member of SAARC-Pakistan, scheduled for next week, in the backdrop of Pakistan High Commissioner to India inviting and meeting Kashmir Pro-Freedom leaders, Abdul Basit Wednesday defended his nation’s move saying, “Kashmiris are legitimate stakeholders in finding a peaceful solution to the issue.”
The two countries’ foreign secretaries were to meet next week in Islamabad to discuss the resumption of formal dialogue.
Basit said inclusion of Kashmir Pro-Freedom leaders in the dialogue “is the only way to find a lasting peace” in the region. Pakistani nation described the Indian decision to cancel talks as a “setback”.
Pertinently, India cancelled talks accusing Pakistan of interfering in its “internal affairs”. Pakistan in its reaction said that it was a “long-standing practice” to consult Kashmiri leaders prior to any talks with India.
Relations, apparently, between the South Asian rivals seemed to be on the up when new Indian PM Narendra Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart to his swearing-in ceremony in May.
“We have been reaching out to Kashmiri leaders for the last 20 years. Kashmir is a dispute which needs to be resolved peacefully, both countries [are] committed to resolving it,” Basit said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi.
“We strongly believe that our interaction is helpful to the process itself. It is helpful to find peaceful solution to the problem. It is important to engage with all stakeholders. So that is the bottom line for us,” he said.
Media reports said the cancellation of talks is an indication of the “tough new approach” adopted by Modi government towards Pakistan.
Only last week, the Indian prime minister while addressing defence personnel in J&K’s Ladakh region had accused Pakistan of waging a “proxy war” against India in Kashmir.