Pakistan has again touched India's raw nerve by inviting separatists for consultations in New Delhi ahead of foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries.
Pakistani high commissioner to India Abdul Basit has invited several separatists, including Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderate leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of a breakaway faction of Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah and pro-independence JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik for holding separate talks in the national capital.
This will be first time that separatists will be holding talks with the Pakistan high commissioner after Narendra Modi government came to power took over the reins in New Delhi.
"A two-member delegation comprising Geelani Saab and me will be leaving for New Delhi on the morning of August 19. We are meeting the high commission the same afternoon," said Ayaz Akbar, spokesman of the hard-line faction of Hurriyat.
Geelani also chaired the executive body meeting of Hurriyat on Sunday in which it was decided that he would press for implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir during the meeting with Pakistan high commissioner.
"The implementation of UN resolutions is the only practicable and democratic solution of this issue. Tri-party talks can prove a good beginning to reach that level. We want to convey to the government of
Pakistan that the people of Kashmir will not accept anything less than complete freedom for Kashmir," said Geelani.
Mirwaiz is also leaving for the national capital on August 19 to hold the meeting with Abdul Basit. "We are meeting the Pakistani high commissioner on the evening of August 19. We will be apprising him of the situation in the valley and press for prioritising the solution to Kashmir issue," said Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of the moderate Hurriyat.
The talks between separatists and Pakistani high commissioner are being held against the backdrop of union home minister Rajnath Singh's statement that the Centre is willing to have any dialogue under the ambit of 'insaniyat' (humanity) to address the Kashmir issue.
Moderate Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz had held three rounds of talks with Centre – two with NDA government and one with UPA government – to break the ice on Kashmir. Geelani, however, has chosen to stay away from the talks demanding implementation of UN resolutions and accepting Kashmir as a dispute.
Congress said it is indeed a "strange and an ironical" situation that the Pakistani High Commissioner is "feting" the Kashmiri separatists.
BJP spokesperson MJ 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. The state unit of BJP has urged the Centre to summon Basit and register a protest against this development.
"Under the Simla agreement, all issues have to be resolved bilaterally and separatists have no role to play. We strongly condemn it and ask the government to register its protest with Pakistan high commissioner," said Ravinder Raina, state president of Bharatiya Yuva Janata Morcha.