NEW DELHI: For the first time in recent memory, the Pakistan High Commission has not sent an invite to the separatist Hurriyat Conference to meet with a visiting Pakistani leader — in this case Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Speaking to Express, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq confirmed that there was no invite from the High Commission. He added that it was not a major omission, as Sharif was not coming for a formal bilateral visit, but to attend a ceremony which will be attended by other foreign leaders as well.
“We have not got an invite from the High Commission. But, we don’t consider this visit as a bilateral dialogue, so we are not worried,” he told Express on phone from Srinagar. The Hurriyat leader added that he considered the acceptance of India’s invitation by Pakistan as a good sign and hoped that this will lead to “more positivity” to solve the Kashmir dispute. There had been furious backlash by the BJP last year when Pakistan PM’s advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz met separately with Hurriyat leaders at the High Commission during a visit in November.
Nawaz Sharif and his delegation will be arriving on Monday morning. He is scheduled to meet businessmen, before going to Rashtrapati Bhavan to join seven other foreign leaders for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. Sharif will hold a short bilateral meeting with Modi on Tuesday. He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee before leaving the same day. Sharif’s acceptance of India’s invitation itself came at the last minute as he had to overcome resistance from political and military quarters.