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India advises Pakistan against Aziz meeting separatists

New Delhi, Aug. 21 (PTI): India made it clear to Pakistan on Friday that it should not go ahead with the meeting of its National Security Advisor Sartaz Aziz with Hurriyat representatives here when he comes to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, saying it will not be “appropriate”.

In a clear message to the Pakistan High Commission, which has invited hardline Kashmir separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others separatists, India said such a meeting would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the understanding reached at Ufa, Russia to jointly work to combat terrorism.

”India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Sartaz Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India,” Vikas Swarup, spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry, said in a tweet.

He tweeted that India has sought confirmation of its proposed agenda for the NSA-level talks that was conveyed to the Pakistani side on August 18.

The two NSAs are scheduled to meet in New Delhi for talks on terrorism-related issues for the first time on August 23, as decided in a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in July in Ufa in Russia.

The invitation by the Pakistan High Commission to Geelani and other separatist leaders including Umar Farooq on Sunday to meet Aziz has upset New Delhi but Pakistan has stuck to the line that such meetings were “routine”.

Pakistan Foreign office had said in Islamabad that consultations with Hurriyat leaders were a “routine matter” and a “long standing practice”.

The Pakistani invitation, which is seen as yet another ”provocation” by the Indian side, comes after persistent ceasefire violations as well as two terror attacks in recent weeks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur which many observers see as Pakistan army's opposition to any discussions with India.

Last year, India had unilaterally called off Foreign Secretary-level talks after the Pakistan High Commissioner here had held “consultations” with the Kashmiri separatist leaders on the eve of the FS-level meeting in Islamabad.

Significantly, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had last week said his country will not “abandon” the Kashmiris' ”legitimate struggle for freedom”, stressing that to have normal and cooperative relationship with India it was necessary to settle the decades-old dispute.

 


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