New Delhi: A day before the foreign secretary-level talks, separatists Tuesday met Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and pitched for putting the Kashmir issue at the forefront of engagement between India and Pakistan. The moderates and hardliners, were, however, divided on the dialogue process.
Jilani’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have irked New Delhi which sees such meetings as not conducive to creating good will or reducing trust deficit between India and Pakistan.
“Pakistan should press India hard to resolve the Kashmir issue,” Geelani told reporters after the meeting. He said it was the responsibility of Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue and stressed that the talks between India and Pakistan can’t succeed unless this core issue is resolved.
He also accused India of depriving the residents of Jammu and Kashmir of civil liberties and accused it of state terrorism.
The self-appointed Kashmiri leaders were, however, divided on the dialogue process between India and Pakistan, with moderates saying it was necessary for building “mutual trust” while hardliners slamming it as a “futile exercise”.
“We support the dialogue process as building mutual trust was important,” said Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference.
“However, one important aspect of involvement of Kashmiris in the talks on the issue was still missing and it should be addressed at the earliest,” he said.
The Mirwaiz told Jilani that while implementation of confidence-building measures in the Valley were important, the issue could be resolved only after the involvement of people of Kashmir to find a lasting solution to the issue.
Jilani, said Mirwaiz, expressed support to the Kashmir issue and extended an invitation to them to visit Islamabad in September or October 2012.
Gilani’s meeting with Kashmiri separatists is seen as another attempt by Pakistan to out the focus on the Kashmir issue amid fresh disclosures by Abu Hamza Jindal, which New Delhi says has pointed to the involvement of Pakistan state actors in the 26/11 carnage.
The meeting has not gone well with New Delhi.
Sources in India’s foreign ministry said such meeting are not conducive to creating a positive atmosphere or reducing trust deficit, a key objective of the dialogue process which India and Pakistan revived only in February last year after a long hiatus following the Mumbai terror.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Jilani will begin two-day talks Wednesday that will focus on issues like peace and security including confidence-building measures, Jammu and Kashmir, and the promotion of friendly exchanges.