Geelani meets Pakistani High Commissioner, says India`s decision to cancel talks `childish`

By Biplob Ghosal | Last Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 16:53

Zee Media Bureau/Biplob Ghosal

New Delhi: A day after India cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Tuesday met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit amid protests.

Some people were seen protesting against Geelani outside the Pakistan High Commission. The Delhi Police detained some protesters in order to control the mob.

Earlier in the day, Geelani termed the Centre`s decision of cancelling the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks as unfortunate.

Geelani, known for his anti-India rhetoric, opined that Kashmir is an international issue and peace cannot return to the Valley until India and Pakistan resolve it amicably.

Expressing his views on Narendra Modi government`s decision to cancel the Indo-Pak talks, the Hurriyat leader stated that India reacted in a childish manner and the decision doesn`t hold importance.

“We have been visiting the Pakistani embassy regularly to hold talks. The decision to cancel Foreign Secretary-level talks is undemocratic,” Geelani said.

The NDA government had on Monday called off the August 25 Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, terming unacceptable "the continued efforts to interfere" in its internal affairs.

However, despite India`s tough stand, the separatist leaders decided to go ahead with their scheduled meeting with the Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi.

Besides Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF leader Mohammad Yasin Malik are scheduled to meet Basit in the national capital today.

Speaking to the media, Malik ridiculed Prime Minister Modi and said that the PM had said he will follow in the footsteps of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but it seems the present government does not want to hold dialogue with Pakistan.

Commenting on the issue of return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, the JKLF leader asserted, “No one is opposed to the idea; they have as much right to live in the Valley as I do.”
Earlier, a spokesman of the moderate Hurriyat Conference confirmed Mirwaiz`s meet with Basit and said that it was unfortunate that the Centre had cancelled the talks with Pakistan.

Pakistan has described India`s decision as a "setback" to its efforts to promote good neighbourly relations.
An IANS report said, External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin conveyed the Indian government`s decision following Basit`s meeting with separatist Kashmiri leader Shabir Shah in the capital on Monday for consultations before the foreign Secretary-level talks.

"Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh`s visit to Islamabad for talks on Aug 25 stands cancelled," he said, adding that the talks have been called off as "no useful purpose will be served" by her visit.

In its reaction, the Pakistan Foreign Office said it has been informed of India`s decision to call off the talks "taking exception" to its high commissioner in New Delhi holding meetings with Kashmiri leaders but noted that it is a "long standing practice" ahead of bilateral talks to hold meetings with Kashmiri leaders in order to "facilitate meaningful discussions on the issue of Kashmir".

Announcing the decision in a strong statement, Akbaruddin said that the invitation to "so-called leaders of the Hurriyat does indeed raise questions about Pakistan`s sincerity, and shows that its negative approaches and attempts to interfere in India`s internal affairs continue unabated".

Jammu and Kashmir`s ruling National Conference meanwhile termed the decision to call off the talks "strange" while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party called it "a negative development".

First Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 09:31

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