Controversy brews over VK Singh attending Pakistan Day dinner; India rules out third party in talks

Former Army chief and Minister of state for Foreign Affairs, VK Singh attended the Pakistani envoy's dinner in the national capital on Monday to celebrate Pakistan Day.

Controversy brews over VK Singh attending Pakistan Day dinner; India rules out third party in talks

New Delhi: Former Army chief and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, VK Singh attended Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit's dinner in the national capital on Monday to celebrate Pakistan Day. 

The NDA minister stayed for 15 minutes at the reception. Also in attendance was Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar.

At the same time, several Kashmiri separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik were also present at the dinner.

After media asked questions to the government regarding its stands on talks with Pakistan, Singh said that he was asked by the government to represent it at the Pakistan National Day reception at the Pakistani High Commission here.

"The Government of India has to sent an MoS. They sent me and I went there and came back," he said replying to a question about his presence at the reception.

Asked specifically whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to attend the event at the Pakistani High Commission, he said, "The Government of India asked me to go there," as per PTI.

Also read: After attending Pakistan Day dinner, VK Singh tweets of 'duty' and 'disgust'

Later on, he posted a series of tweets on 'duty' and 'disgust'.

Meanwhile, talking to a news channel, Malik said, "We are just here to attend the functions. I am not an Indian. We are disputed people. Our status are yet to be ascertained."

On his part, while talking to the media, Geelani dismissed the fact that there was any terrorism in J&K.

Asked about India's assertion that talks with Pakistan cannot be held under the shadow of terror, Geelani said, "There is no terror there".

Geelani, however, ducked questions on the two terror attacks in Jammu last week. Flanked by Pakistani officials, the separatist leader said what was happening in Jammu and Kashmir was "state terrorism".

Earlier he had said that talks were not on the agenda while attending Pakistan's National Day celebrations.

He had added, "Dialogues have happened more than 150 times but with no results at all. This is because India on the one hand says that it will go ahead with talks, while on the other hand says that J&K is an integral part of India," as per ANI.

Geelani had also said, "In 2010 we had given five pointers for debate. First India should accept disputed nature of J&K. Second, withdrawal of occupying forces. Third, withdrawal of black laws. Fourth, case against CRPF, police and local government for killing 128 of our men. Fifth, detainees to be released. The day India will acknowledge all these points, then dialogue will take place."

On the other hand, talking to reporters Aiyar slammed the NDA government saying, "It was foolish to break down dialogue with Pakistan on grounds that High Commissioner met Hurriyat leaders."

"Meeting between separatists and Pakistan envoy started during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's times (former Indian PM) and continued during our times. Hope we'll show maturity to undertake uninterrupted dialogue with Pak without which we wont be able to resolve any issue," he added. 

Reacting to Singh attending the dinner hosted by Pakistani envoy NC leader and former J&K CM tweeted: "How ridiculous to expect that Gen VK Singh would not attend Pakistan National Day event. Its his job as MOS EA to attend diplomatic events."

In another tweet he wrote: "Modi government is also more realistic regarding Pak-APHC equation. The calling off of the dialogue after the earlier tea was a bad knee jerk."

Earlier, India had vociferously responded to allegations of not having objections to the Hurriyat being invited for Pakistan Day celebrations, declaring that there is no place for a third party in talks between New Delhi and Islamabad.

"Having repeated it on so many occasions, there should be no scope for misunderstanding or misrepresenting India's position on the role of the so called Hurriyat. Let me reiterate there are only two parties and there is no place for a third party in resolution of India-Pakistan issues," Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, as per IANS.

"The only way forward to proceed on all outstanding issues is a peaceful bilateral dialogue within the framework of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration," he added.

Basit had said today that the primary objective at present was to achieve peace between India and Pakistan and resolve issues.

"Indian Foreign Secretary was in Pakistan earlier this month. We are looking forward to resumption of an engagement process. Let's hope that the engagement will continue which started with Jaishankar's (S Jaishankar) visit to Pakistan," he told ANI.

Last year, India had called off the foreign secretary level talks set for August 25 after the Pakistani High Commissioner met Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks, ignoring India's request not to do so.

(With Agency inputs)

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