Islamabad: Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's refusal to attend an Eid Milan party hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in India is "an affront to Pakistan's diplomatic efforts and will be a setback in the newly-opened talks with India", a daily said on Thursday.
An editorial in The Nation rued that "when it comes to diplomacy over the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan just can’t seem to get it right".
Geelani, has refused to attend the Eid Milan party hosted by the Pakistan High Commission on July 21.
"The Eid Milan party is a tradition, and such events help solidify the bond between the people of Kashmir and Pakistan. The refusal is an affront to Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts and will be a setback in the newly opened talks with India.
"India gets to see cracks in the Kashmir-Pakistan relationship, and a weakening of Pakistan’s stand over Kashmir. This is not a signal we want to broadcast," the daily said.
Geelani said that the Kashmir issue was ignored in the joint statement between India and Pakistan, after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian premier Narendra Modi met in Ufa, Russia.
"...The frustration is understandable. We have always stood by the Hurriyat, yet, when was the last time we were able to talk about them to the Indian government?"
It went on to say that "we know that involving the Kashmiri leaders in the peace process and dialogue with India is important".
"We also know that the Hurriyat leaders are made to feel that the Kashmiri people have no say in their fate."
The daily said that Pakistan’s efforts for Kashmir either annoy the Indian government, or end up upsetting Kashmiri leaders.
"Looking back, just last year, the Pakistan High Commissioner’s invitation to the Hurriyat leaders for consultations was followed by India getting offended and cancelling foreign secretary level talks," it said.
Pakistan has always maintained that their relationship with the Kashmir Hurriyat leaders has been a traditional one, where dialogue is encouraged. "This is regardless of India’s stance of keeping the Pakistan-India talks strictly 'bilateral'. In this scenario, does the Hurriyat expect Pakistan to pause talks with India until the Kashmir issue is acknowledged?"