SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed today expressed disappointment over cancellation of India-Pakistan NSA talks while his predecessor Farooq Abdullah put the blame on separatists who in turn accused India for the development.
Abdullah's son and another former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, while expressing disappointment over the development, said he expected this to be the fate of the proposed talks going by last year's experience when India cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks over Hurriyat issue.
Sayeed expressed disappointment and hoped that "the break in talks would be temporary".
He had a veiled advice for Pakistan and separatists too, saying "It is neither warranted nor desirable to insist upon all-inclusive participation, directly or indirectly, in each and every bilateral meeting, like that between the two NSAs."
Hoping that India and Pakistan will "re-engage soon in a meaningful dialogue" and steps taken by New Delhi to remove impediments in normalization of relations will be reciprocated by Islamabad, Sayeed said he wants to see both the countries "walk the bridge of trust together".
Farooq Abdullah termed the cancellation of talks as unfortunate and blamed separatist leaders for the breakdown.
"These self-claimed champions of Kashmiris should have shown some courage and backed off themselves. What was the hurry? The Hurriyat and other separatists receive funds from Pakistan. Their viewpoint is already reflected by Pakistan," he said.
"What point does it serve them to show their presence at reception? They could have easily avoided that," he added.
Omar told PTI, "I am very disappointed at the turn of events." He said he was worried about this from the time when Foreign Secretary level talks were cancelled last year on the same issue.
While this was expected seeing the turn of events, nevertheless that "doesn't make the sense of disappointment any less acute", he added.
Moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said calling off of the talks was unfortunate.
"Yet another opportunity lost by both the countries to engage with each other. The last nail in the coffin was put by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when she made it clear that there will not be any talks on Kashmir. Instead of moving forward, we are only moving backwards," he said.
He regretted that the BJP had assured, along with its ally PDP, that they would talk to all shades of opinion. "I think there is a lot of difference in what they say and what they do," the Hurriyat leader said.
He hoped a better sense will prevail and the government will discuss Kashmir with Kashmiris.
Another separatist leader Shabir Shah, who continues to be under house arrest at the guest house in South Delhi, said he was disappointed that the talks had been cancelled.
"I wish the government had not put any conditions to Pakistan ahead of talks," he said.
Hardline Hurriyat Conference, headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, also termed the cancellation of NSA talks as unfortunate but said "at the end of the day, it is a diplomatic victory for us as well as Pakistan".
Ayaz Akbar, the spokesman for the hardline group, said, "A message has gone to the world that Kashmir issue is not a bilateral territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and that people of Jammu and Kashmir are the principal party to it. The fanatic approach adopted by government is not practicable. How long will New Delhi pursue this policy?"
CPM leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami said the development was a "huge disappointment" for all those who want the peace process to be strengthened. "The cancellation of talks has only helped the fundamentalist and extremists on both sides," he said.
He appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif not to fall prey to "domestic sectarian compulsions" and resume a composite dialogue so that the dangers ahead are resisted together.