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No more talks with separatists here, Delhi tells Pakistan

The Union government has told its Pakistani counterpart that it will not allow any more dialogue between the latter and Kashmiri separatists. The only way forward and a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute, will be on the basis of the Simla Agreement of 1971 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999.

This is in the backdrop of the recent cancellation by Delhi of the scheduled meeting between foreign secretaries of both sides, after the Pak high commissioner here, Abdul Basit, went ahead with an invitation to separatist leaders to come for two days of talks with him.

“There has never been an occasion when the Pakistan High Commission has held talks with separatists just before a high-level meeting between both governments at Islamabad. This has never been the practice and we will not tolerate such a thing. Dialogue with the Hurriyat (the broad separatist alliance in the state) is not acceptable and will not be allowed in future,” said a senior official of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) here.

The official pointed to the previous such high-level visit, under the previous government, by then minister of external affairs S M Krishna to Islamabad in September 2012. At that time, then Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir did not send any invitation or hold talks with Hurriyat leaders.

“Who are they? They do not represent the voice of Kashmiri people. They are not their elected representatives,” the official said.

When Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif came here in May to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony, he had avoided meeting the Kashmiri leaders, after a clear MEA communication that such a move would not be taken favourably.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the media here, “When the Government of India takes a decision, it takes all factors into account. In this case, first of all, we were not having talks; we were going to have talks. And, therefore, our understanding was…this was not substantive, meaningful engagement…it was going to lead to that and, therefore, we felt that in this environment, it would not serve any purpose…A series of actions were taken which were not conducive to proceed ahead.”

On the way forward, since both PMs will be in New York next month for the UN General Assembly meet, Akbaruddin said this was supposed to have been discussed, had the foreign secretaries met. Now, nothing is clear.

Despite a warning from the government here, Basit had gone ahead and held talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik over two days.

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