NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding the invitation to separatists and criticism from the Congress, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar represented the Indian government at the Pakistan Day function at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. The suspense over who would attend Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit’s dinner party on Wednesday evening had deepened after MoS PMO Jitendra Singh said that he may not be able to attend the function due to prior commitments. Javadekar said that he had extended greetings to the people of Pakistan on the occasion.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, among others, reached around the same time when Javadekar was led to a stage by Basit. However, Farooq tried to play down the row over separatists attending the event saying that Pak invitation to Kashmiri separatists for Pak Day was a standard practice. “The Hurriyat has always gone for the event. There is no point raising a storm in a tea cup over the Hurriyat Conference attending Pak Day celebrations. For the Kashmir issue to be solved, both Indian and Pakistani leadership have to come forward with maturity,” Farooq said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too greeted the people of Pakistan on their national day.
Meanwhile, noting that Pakistan is faced with “unprecedented” threat of terrorism and extremism, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today asserted that these “evils” will be defeated and “completely wiped out from our soil”. In a written message Sharif also said that the country has resolved to ensure freedom, equality and social justice for all its citizens.
President Mamnoon Hussain called Kashmir the “jugular vein of Pakistan” even as he sought a peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute with India over it. Hussain reiterated support for Kashmiri people, saying, “Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their right to self-determination,” he said.
Pakistan is looking to have “normal” ties with India on the basis of “mutual respect and interest”, its envoy Abdul Basit said even as he called for resolution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, to ensure “peace and prosperity”.