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BJP potshots ahead of Pak talks

Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani arrive for a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. Picture by Prem Singh

Patna, July 4: Taking strong exception to Pakistan foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani’s decision to hold talks with Hurriyat leaders a day before Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level meets, the BJP today urged the Centre to launch a “strong protest” with the Pakistan government.

“The Pakistan foreign secretary arrived in New Delhi yesterday for foreign secretary-level talks. But even before the dialogue, the Pakistani secretary preferred to meet separatist Hurriyat leaders at the Pakistan High Commission. This is completely unacceptable and the Government of India should lodge a strong protest with its Pakistan counterpart,” BJP general secretary and chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said today.

Prasad, a Supreme Court lawyer, said this while addressing a seminar on “Report of Kashmir interlocutors: a threat to country’s sovereignty” at the party’s state headquarters, which was attended by about 100 workers. The foreign secretary-level talks were scheduled to be held on July 4 and 5 in New Delhi for which Jilani arrived yesterday in the national capital.

While deliberating on the seminar, Prasad criticised the J&K interlocutors’ report on the ground that it (report) favoured the pre-1952 status for resolving the Kasmir problem.

The pre-1952 status means that the Election Commission of India and the Supreme Court would not have any jurisdiction over J&K, which is not acceptable to the BJP and would oppose any such move tooth and nail.

“We will oppose any such move to separate Jammu and Kashmir from India in the garb of interlocutors’ report, as the state is very much an integral part of the country. We will support the process of decentralisation under which panchayati raj institutions can get funds for development or any other financial assistance,” he said.

The Centre must make its stand clear as to whether it has accepted or rejected the interlocutors’ report, Prasad said.

The problem is going to aggravate the Kashmir issue if the report is given consideration, the senior BJP leader said, while exhorting the workers to make the common people aware of the report.