Senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah today welcomed the upcoming Indo-Pakistan Foreign Secretary level talks but maintained that bilateral dialogue between the two countries would not resolve the Kashmir issue as people of the state were principle party to the dispute.
"We welcome the talks between India and Pakistan but bilateral talks cannot resolve Kashmir issue as we have seen that such initiatives always ended in failure over the past six decades," Shah told PTI.
Shah said the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved without the inclusion of "true leadership" of Jammu and Kashmir in the resolution process "as we are the basic party". He said there was nothing wrong in Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit meeting the separatist leaders from Kashmir ahead of the Foreign Secretary level talks. "India and Pakistan are parties to Kashmir dispute but we are the basic party. What is wrong if one party meets the other party?" he asked.
Basit has invited the separatist leadership of Kashmir including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mohammad Yasin Malik for consultations in Delhi tomorrow. The meeting has been scheduled ahead of the August 25 talks between Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and her Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad.