New Delhi/Srinagar: The US on Thursday hoped that the Indian and Pakistani national security advisers would address all bilateral issues, including “disputed” Kashmir, in a direct manner and come up with a common approach to resolve them, even as speculation is rife that Hurriyat leaders may be prevented by the Modi government from meeting Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz in Delhi on Sunday.
Earlier on Thursday, top Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were put under house arrest, only to be released within hours. The J&K police restricted the movements of several separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Ayaz Akbar.
Security personnel were deployed outside the Hydrepora residence of hardline Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is already under house arrest. JKLF chief Yasin Malik was taken into preventive custody from his Maisuma residence and kept at Kothibagh police station.
Officials were tightlipped on the reason for the detentions, but it was speculated that it could have been done to send a signal to Pakistan that its engagement with the separatist leaders was not welcome, especially when the two NSAs were about to meet. But in a U-turn, the authorities lifted the curbs on the leaders later without giving any reason.
Government sources said the sudden detention and subsequent release of the separatist leaders was a message to Pakistan that there was no third party to discussions between the two sides on the issue of terror. Speculation is also rife that the swift release of the top Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar soon after their sudden detention was the result of insistence by senior PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, who disagreed with her father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, J&K Chief Minister, on the issue.
The Indo-Pak NSA-level talks are on course as of now, but there may be a new twist should the separatist leaders be prevented from coming to New Delhi to meet Mr Aziz. “The ball will then be in Pakistan’s court,” government sources said. The United States, however, seems to be pushing the two sides to talk.
In New Delhi, defending its decision not to call off the NSA-level talks despite Pakistan courting the separatist leaders, the government said on Thursday that the meeting will only focus on the terror issue and ways to prevent it.
“This meeting is for talks on terror and the need to prevent it,” communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, while the the Pakistan foreign office said that its consultations with Hurriyat leaders were a “routine matter”....