Srinagar: 'A big no-no to Kashmiri separatists’ meeting Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz ahead of now called off talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval also comes as a strong indication of New Delhi being in no mood to resume the two-way dialogue with Hurriyat Conference'.
Hurriyat Conference-a conglomerate of Kashmir’s separatist parties and groups which has since split into three- had had a series of rounds of talks at highest level with the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in 2004 in an attempt to undo the years of hostility and suspicion. His successor Dr. Manmohan Singh also hosted its senior leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in South Block amid mixed bag of expectations. But the official contact between the two sides abruptly came to a halt after the Amarnath land row and there has been no forward movement since then. The two sides blamed each other for beg off.
Yet the hope for replacing guns by political talks was not given up by either side. With the BJP returning to power at the Centre, the Mirwaiz and his colleagues in their faction of Hurriyat Conference were hoping that the government will revisit Mr. Vajpayee’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir and create conducive atmosphere for resumption of the two-way dialogue. BJP's ally Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and his Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) have repeatedly asked the Centre to come forward and hold talks with separatists, asserting that dialogue is the only way to resolve all outstanding issues. But New Delhi has been unenthusiastic. Now the BJP government’s latest rebuff which is being rather seen as affront by the Hurriyat Conference which claims to be a principal party to the Kashmir dispute, leaves no scope for such engagement in near future. At least, the Hurriyat Conference or, for that matter, any other separatist leader or group would find it too hot an area to venture in.
Five latest developments
1. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the cancellation of NSA-level talks as “most unfortunate.” He accused the Modi government of violating the ‘concept’ of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to address the issue of Kashmiri within the ambit of humanity. “The two countries can’t discuss Kashmir without people of Kashmir or take decisions over their heads. We are dismayed over the mounting tensions between the two countries.”
2. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Muhammad Yasin Malik too is disappointed. Reacting to Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj’s ruling out any third part role in India-Pakistan dialogue, he said the people of Kashmir were not third party but ‘first party’ to the issue of Kashmir. “Did Vajpayee violate the spirit of Simla accord by inviting Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership for dialogue?” he asked.
3. The US has said it was “disappointed” that the NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan have been called off. “We are disappointed the talks will not happen this weekend and encourage India and Pakistan to resume formal dialogue soon,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. He, however, added, the “constructive” interaction between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia, was encouraging.
4. In Delhi, separatist leaders Shabir Ahmed Shah and Bilal Gani Lone who were detained on Saturday while the India-Pakistan sparring over the agenda of NSA-level talks was underway are reported to have been advised to return to Srinagar. But as reports emanating from the Union capital suggested they were keen to meet Pakistan’s High Commission Abdul Basit before heading for home.
5. As J&K continue to boil, three militants were killed on Sunday in an encounter with the Army in Khumbhair woods of Handwara area in frontier Kupwara district. Meanwhile, tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) with Pakistan persist although no fresh violation of November 2003 ceasefire agreement has been reported....