SRI NAGAR: The separatist leaders, whose proposed meetings with Pakistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Sartaj Aziz in the national capital led to the cancellation of Indo-Pak NSA-level talks on Saturday night, have held India responsible for the calling-off of dialogue while J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has expressed hope that the break will be temporary.
Amid the recent spate in ceasefire violations and terror strikes this year, security forces neutralised 67 terrorists in the Valley, government sources said. In 2014, the forces had neutralised 110 terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
A spokesman for the moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the turn of events “unfortunate” and blamed Indian “intransigence” as the main reason for the cancellation of talks.
“The conditions put forward by India regarding holding of talks were so absurd and unrealistic that it seems that they deliberately wanted to find an escape route,” he said.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had clearly told Pakistan on Saturday that there could be no discussion on Kashmir during the NSA-level talks and separatists could not be made a third party.
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The Pakistan envoy to India had invited top separatist leaders from Kashmir, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan and pro-independence JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik, for meetings with Aziz ahead of his talks with NSA Ajit Doval.
The moderate Hurriyat spokesman said that India’s unreasonable posturing and unrealistic tactics would not deter people of J&K from pursuing their struggle for right to self determination.
“Kashmir issue can either be resolved through UN resolutions or through talks between India, Pakistan and main stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir,” the spokesman said.
Senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, who was detained in Delhi on Saturday after his arrival from Srinagar, congratulated Pakistan for not succumbing to India’s dictation.
“India ultimatum for talks was unrealistic,” he said and termed India’s stand as a product of its “domestic political issues”.
Blaming India for the cancellation of talks, Shah, however, said both the countries had no option but to talk.
Separatist leader Nayeem Khan, who was also invited for the meet, said Indian “belligerence” by undermining the separatist leadership only showed its “fascist, colonial and imperial stance”, which could only be dismissed with the disdain it deserved.
Holding India responsible for the cancellation of talks, he said that New Delhi was trying to escape from the Kashmir dispute and its hue and cry over Kashmiri separatist leaders meeting with Pakistan NSA were self-defeating.
“Other than Kashmir, what is the burning issue that India and Pakistan need to talk and resolve,” Nayeem asked, adding that against all norms of diplomacy and conflict, India was trying to bury the core issue of Kashmir by trying to engage Pakistan in peripheral issues.
Woman separatist leader and Dukhtaran-e-Millat chairperson Aasiya Andrabi congratulated Pakistan for taking a strong position regarding the NSA-level talks with India.
“Pakistan has exhibited a daring policy and given a message that she will never leave Kashmiris alone,” she said and blamed India for the cancelleation of NSA-level talks.
Hardline separatist leader Masrat Alam’s party Muslim League also blamed India and praised Pakistan for its stand.
Meanwhile, J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed expressed disappointment over the matter and hoped that the break in talks would be temporary and the thaw achieved at Ufa, where Prime Ministers of the two countries met and exhibited great camaraderie, would not be allowed to go waste.
He pinned hope that the two neighbours would reengage soon in a meaningful dialogue and steps taken by New Delhi to remove impediments in normalisation of relations would be reciprocated by Islamabad.
Describing J&K as a major loser due to Indo-Pak freeze, Mufti said the state had been the worst casualty of continued confrontation and terrorism.
“From this perspective, cancellation of the NSA-level talks is a great disappointment,” he said, adding the escalation of firing along the Line of Control (LoC), coupled with incidents of terrorism, were matters of serious concern.