NEW DELHI: The Pakistan High Commission today justified its invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders to meet Pakistan National Security Adviser Sartaz Aziz, during his visit here from August 23, saying such meetings are not "unprecedented".
Ahead of the meeting between the Aziz and NSA Ajit Doval for talks on terror, the Pakistan mission here has invited Kashmiri hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other separatists to hold talks with Aziz and also over dinner which will be attended by a "select gathering".
"We have been meeting and talking to them (Kashmiri leaders). There is nothing unprecedented about it. I don't understand why there is so much hype," Manzoor Ali Memon, Counsellor (Press) in Pakistan High Commission, told PTI.
Reacting to the Pakistan move, India has said it will "respond appropriately". "Let's see what happens (if they go ahead with the meeting with the separatists). The government will respond appropriately," government sources said.
Asserting that there are some sections in the Pakistan establishment who want to "scuttle" the Indo Pak talks and are ratcheting up anti-India activities thereby, pushing India to call off NSA-level talks scheduled for Sunday.
"The invitation should be seen as latest provocative move in that direction," the sources said. Last year, India had unilaterally called off Foreign Secretary-level talks after the Pakistan High Commissioner here had held "consultations" with the Kashmiri separatist leaders on the eve of the FS-level meeting.
Significantly, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had last week said his country will not "abandon" the Kashmiris' "legitimate struggle for freedom", stressing that to have normal and cooperative relationship with India it was necessary to settle the decades-old dispute.