New Delhi: At a time when secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan have just resumed, Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit on Monday met separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in a redux of last year's event that led to bad blood between the two neighbouring countries.
The Pakistan envoy's meeting with the separatist leader yet again threatens to sabotage the semblance of normalcy that was returning between the two countries with Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar's recent visit to Pakistan's capital Islamabad.
Talking to scribes after his meeting with the Pakistani envoy, Geelani told ANI, "Pakistan High Commissioner came to me. We had a discussion on Indian Foreign Secretary's visit to Pakistan."
"Prominent issue is that Jammu and Kashmir issue must be resolved by dialogue between India and Pakistan," Geelani said, and added, "Around 150 dialogues between India and Pakistan have taken place, but none of them have come to a conclusion."
Basit also invited Geelani for the Pakistan Day on March 23.
Sources said that the duo also discussed the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir.
Responding to queries over the Basit-Geelani meet, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told ANI, "The Government of India has kept its stern watch on developments in Jammu and Kashmir....won't take any step which isn't in interest of state."
Meanwhile, Opposition pulled the Modi government up over the issue. Senior Congress leader Rajeev Shukla said, "Government must lodge its protest against this. Such meetings cannot be allowed."
Congress leader form the Valley, Saifuddin Soz added, "Instead of holding SAS Geelani responsible, Government of India should confront Pakistan over this."
Jaishankar's visit — a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's SAARC Yatra initiative — came long after Indo-Pak talks were derailed after Basit had met Kashmiri separatist leaders in August last year.
The Modi government had then called off the secretary-level talks scheduled between the two countries as a mark of protest over Pakistan envoy's gesture and has since maintained that its neighbour either talks to India or separatists.
Jaishankar, during his Pakistan visit, had discussed bilateral relations and raised the issue of ceasefire violations in Kashmir.
(With Agency Inputs)