Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek
New Delhi: India called off the Foreign Secretary level talks scheduled between the two countries on August 25 in Islamabad on Monday after Pak High Commissioner Abdul Basit`s decision to meet separatist leaders from Kashmir at Delhi.
The moderate Hurriyat faction had on Sunday said that Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had been invited by the Pakistan High Commission for consultations in Delhi on August 19, following which India called off the Foreign Secretary level talks, PTI reported.
It is reported that the Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh informed Pakistan High Commissioner that her talks with Pakistan counterpart on August 25 in Islamabad now stand cancelled.
The condition for the talks was "India or separatists", said sources; but Pak`s top envoy went ahead with the meeting.
Upon this breach, India conveyed its displeasure, and said, "Under the present circumstances,...No useful purpose will be served by the Indian Foreign Secretary going to Islamabad next week."
“At a time when serious initiative was taken to take bilateral ties forward, invite to Hurriyat leaders raises questions about Pak’s sincerity.”
Talking to scribes over the matter, Syed Akbaruddin, Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, said, "Indian Foreign Secretary had conveyed to the Pakistan High Commissioner (Abdul Basit) today, in clear and unambiguous terms, that Pakistan`s continued efforts to interfere in India`s internal affairs were unacceptable."
"It was underlined that the Pakistani High Commissioner`s meetings with these so called leaders of the Hurriyat undermines the constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by Prime Minister Modi in May on his very first day in office," he added.
“Pak High Commissioner`s meeting with so called Hurriyat leaders undermined the constructive diplomatic arrangements made by PM Modi,” the MEA spokesperson added.
Only path for Pak is resolve issues through peaceful bilateral talks under Shimla Agreement & Lahore Declaration: MEA pic.twitter.com/BsYcO8dBrj
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 18, 2014
A Statement by the MEA over the matter reads —
At a time when serious initiatives were being undertaken by the Government of India to move bilateral ties forward, including towards the resumption of a regular dialogue process, the invitation to so-called leaders of the Hurriyat by Pakistan’s High Commissioner 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.
Indian Foreign Secretary conveyed to the Pakistan High Commissioner today, in clear and unambiguous terms, that Pakistan`s continued efforts to interfere in India’s internal affairs were unacceptable. It was underlined that the Pakistani High Commissioner’s meetings with these so called leaders of the Hurriyat undermines the constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by Prime Minister Modi in May on his very first day in office.
The only path available to Pakistan is to resolve outstanding issues through a peaceful bilateral dialogue within the framework and principles of the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.
Therefore, under the present circumstances, it is felt that no useful purpose will be served by the Indian Foreign Secretary going to Islamabad next week. Foreign Secretary`s visit to Islamabad for talks on 25 August stands cancelled.
Separatists from Kashmir expressed surprise over Indian government`s move to cancel the proposed talks with Pakistan saying it was "unfortunate" and would only ensure that the stand-off between the two countries continued.
Hinting at a `political conspiracy behind the move`, Kashmiri separatist leader of the Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah, who met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit today, said the decision to cancel the talks did not augur well for the sub-continent.
"We expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was willing to solve all issues including Kashmir. His move to invite Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for oath-taking ceremony, which was responded to with equal enthusiasm, was seen as a silver lining in the dark clouds over Kashmir...But this move of cancelling the talks will only contribute to confusion," he said.
“What`s the harm in meeting Pak High Commissioner? Vajpayee ji held talks with us too,” said the Kashmiri separatist leader.
Shah said he wanted talks between India and Pak to move ahead but `Kashmir should not be kept in cold storage`.
Many also welcomed Modi government`s blunt message to Pak. Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted, "I support India’s decision to suspend talks with mischievous Pakistan. Befitting reply to those who do not understand language of peace."
I support India’s decision to suspend talks with mischievous Pakistan. Befitting reply to those who do not understand language of peace.
— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) August 18, 2014
He was seconded by BJP MP Anurag Thakur. He tweeted, "Welcome decision of GOI to call off Foreign Secy talks w/ Pak. Those attempting to meddle in India`s internal affairs stand cautioned (sic)."
Welcome decision of GOI to call off Foreign Secy talks w/ Pak. Those attempting to meddle in India's internal affairs stand cautioned.
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) August 18, 2014
The Congress however raised questions over the move stating that the government shouldn`t have agreed to talks in the first place.
Congress` senior leader Manish Tewari said that the government should not have invited Nawaz Sharif for any talks.
“Was the government not aware of Pakistan sponsoring terror in India? Why did it invite Nawaz Sharif then?” asked Tewari.
Pakistan has repeatedly violated ceasefire and on Sunday night resorted to heavy mortar shelling and automatic weapons firing at 20 Border Out Posts and civilian areas along the International Border in Jammu sector.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was to meet her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in order to raise concerns about these repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan`s armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, who floated the third faction of the amalgam last year, had been invited by the Pakistan High Commissioner.
Pakistan envoys have in the past too talked to separatists from Kashmir before any major diplomatic initiative with India.
However, Islamabad broke off from this tradition when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited India to attend the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May this year
With Agency Inputs