New Delhi: In a move which is likely to vitiate the political atmosphere ahead of the scheduled NSA level talks between the two countries, Pakistan High Commission has invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for a meeting with its NSA Sartaj Aziz during his upcoming India visit.
Media reports on Wednesday claimed that the Pakistan High Commission's invite has gone to key leaders of the Hurriyat, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Nayeem Khan and Yasin Malik.
The Hurriyat leaders have been invited for the “reception party” of Sartaj Aziz. The meet between Hurriyat leaders and Aziz will reportedly take place in the evening on August 23.
Geelani sahib has been invited by the High Commission,” Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“Pakistan wants to take the separatists on board before resumption of talks with India,” he further said.
The invite assumes significance as India, last year, cancelled talks with Pakistan terming Pak High Commission’s invite to separatist leaders as “unacceptable interference,” while pointing to “new red lines” in bilateral engagement.
It is not clear yet whether the separatist would accept the invite by the High Commission or not.
Recently, the Pak High Commission had invited the separatists for a Eid Milan. While Hurriyat chairman Geelani and JKLF supremo rejected the invite citing ignoring of Kashmir issue in the joint statement of PM Modi and Nawaz Sharief at Ufa Russia, Mirwaiz attended the Eid Milan.
The invite to the separatists will also be seen in the context of a series of unpleasant developments in the country, which the NDA government sees as “provocations” from Pakistan ahead of the talks.
Indian Army has accused Pakistani troops of deliberately targeting the border posts in Jammu and Poonch and violating the ceasefire. In an alarming escalation of the cross-border firing, 120 mm mortar shells were fired from the Pakistan side that left six civilians dead on Independence Day last Saturday. Recent terrorist attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur are also being seen as an attempt to ratchet up tensions between the two countries.