Separatists from Kashmir on Monday expressed surprise over India's decision to cancel the proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan saying it was "unfortunate" and would only ensure that the stand-off between the two countries continued.
Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said that the decision was "very very unfortunate as we expected that the process of dialogue had opened and both the governments in India and Pakistan will work together for resolving the Kashmir issue".
The Mirwaiz said there was no harm in meeting of the separatist leadership with the Pakistan envoy. "We only convey our views and this is not the first time that such an exercise has been conducted.
"Such meetings had taken place during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh as prime ministers. So what is the hue and cry about this time?" he said.
Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah, who met Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit on Monday, said the decision to cancel the talks did not augur well for the sub-continent.
"The BJP led majority government has succumbed to pressure and taken the decision to call off talks only to hide its weaknesses. They have betrayed the tradition and policy of their own leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani," Shah told dna. Shah said that he remains committed to result-oriented trilateral dialogue between India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir.
JKLF chief Yaseen Malik also expressed surprise over the decision of India and said "it is most unfortunate. After many years of chill, we expected some warmth in the relations between the two countries."
He also spoke about earlier meetings being held by the separatists with visiting Pakistani leaders and envoys ahead of any bilateral meeting between the two countries.
"For the last two decades, we have been meeting all visiting Pakistani dignitaries and high commissioners. What is new in this? Does the government of India really want to find peace in the sub-continent or not, one wonders!" he said.
—With inputs from agencies