New Delhi: In a surprise move, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has decided against attending the Eid Milan being hosted by the Pakistan High Commission here on July 21 over the Kashmir issue being “ignored” at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Russia last week.
The hardline Hurriyat Conference leader told a news agency that he will register his protest by not attending the Eid Milan as the two prime ministers did not discuss the Kashmir issue during their talks in the Russian city of Ufa on July 10.
“As the two prime ministers ignored the fate of over 10 million people of Jammu and Kashmir in their meeting, we reject being a part of any of their (Pakistan's) celebration,” Geelani told a news agency over the phone from Srinagar.
“The Kashmir issue is question of life and death for us. Nobody can take us for granted. And I will not attend the Eid Milan in New Delhi to register a symbolic protest,” he said.
Sources in hardline Hurriyat Conference said that no member from the party will attend the event. They said that the scheduled Iftar party at the high commission earlier this month - which was to be attended by Hurriyat leaders from various factions - was canceled to create a favourable atmosphere for meeting of the two prime ministers.
“It is unfortunate that Kashmir issue was neglected in the (Ufa) meeting. The main issue between the two countries is Kashmir - and they chose not to talk about its resolution. The cancellation of Iftar party was to create a feasible environment for the (Sharif-Modi) meeting,” a Geelani aide told a news agency.
The Narendra Modi government had called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August last year over Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit meeting separatist leaders on the eve of the dialogue.
Following the Ufa meeting, the Indian and Pakistan foreign secretaries had said in a joint statement that the two countries had a collective responsibility to ensure peace and they were prepared to discuss all outstanding issues.
Sharif's key advisor on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz had said on Monday that the Ufa meeting served the purpose of achieving an understanding that tensions and hostility between the two countries need to be reduced in order to engage in dialogue pertaining to bilateral issues, including Kashmir.