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Invite to separatists by Pakistani High Commissioner before Foreign Secretary talks sparks controversy

Sunday, 17 August 2014 - 7:22pm IST | Place: Srinagar | Agency: PTI

An invitation by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to all the Kashmiri separatist leaders "for consultations" in Delhi ahead of Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks touched off a controversy today with BJP calling it "most unfortunate" and "old tactics". Congress said it is indeed a "strange and an ironical" situation that the Pakistani High Commissioner is "feting" the Kashmiri separatists.

The consultations will take place in Delhi on Tuesday for which invitations have gone out to Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief of its hardline faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani and senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, who floated the third faction of the amalgam last year. Pro-independence JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has also been invited for the parleys.

Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan are due to meet in Islamabad on August 25. "Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been invited by the Pakistan High Commission for consultations in Delhi on August 19," a spokesman of the moderate faction of the separatist amalgam told PTI. A spokesman of the hardline faction said Geelani will leave for Delhi on Tuesday for the meeting to be held that afternoon.

"The Chairman (Malik) got a call from the Pakistan High Commission this afternoon inviting him for talks," a JKLF spokesman said. BJP spokesperson M J Akbar said the "gesture" of the Pakistani High Commissioner is back to the "old tactics" of finding things to disagree about rather than picking up the message so powerfully enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many times before that the common purpose of the two governments should be the elimination of poverty. "It is most unfortunate that Pakistan chooses to dwell on creating impossible conditions when so much more beneficial things can happen between the neighbours if they concentrate on the possible," he said.

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