Ahead of India visit, Pakistan invites Hurriyat leaders to Sartaj Aziz reception

Source:  Tribune Published in Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In a move that could possibly change the fate of talks between Indian and Pakistan’s national security advisers scheduled for August 23, the Pakistan High Commission has invited Hurriyat leaders to meet with Sartaj Aziz during his stay in Delhi.

According to sources, invitations have been sent to key Hurriyat leaders, including chairperson Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for a reception hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

Last year in August, India called off talks between foreign secretaries of both countries following a meeting between the Pakistan high commissioner and Hurriyat leaders.

Aziz will visit New Delhi on August 23 for dialogue with his counterpart Ajit Doval. India had proposed August 23-24 for the meeting in line with an agreement between Premier Nawaz and his counterpart Narendra Modi in Russia last month.

The attack on a police station in Gurdaspur, located in the Indian state of Punjab, on July 27 delayed the immediate resumption of talks.

On Tuesday, finalising a strategy for the upcoming NSA interaction, the top civil and military leadership agreed to adopt an aggressive stance on terrorism related issues but a give-and-take approach on bilateral disputes. It was proposed that Aziz should take up the issue of the release of Samjhota Express incident’s mastermind, India’s involvement in Balochistan and Afghanistan and its violation of ceasefire at the Line of Control and the working boundary.

The civil-military also agreed that the outcome of the NSA’s meeting should not be ambiguous or one-sided but rather they should send a clear message to all stakeholders.

However, Indian former union minister, Yashwant Sinha, claimed the talks between the two advisers will be a ”dialogue of the deaf” and there will be no outcome.

Sinha said the Bharaiya Janata Party (BJP) had deviated from its stated policy pertaining to talks with Pakistan. ”This has been a clearly stated policy of BJP that terror and talks do not go together,” he said, according to India Today.

“You say you (Pakistan) are promoting terrorism against India, they will say you are promoting terrorism against Pakistan. You will say you committed 26/11 and then they will point to Samjhauta Express blast. For every dossier, they will have a counter dossier,” he said.

“Therfore, these talks at the NSA level will be a dialogue of the deaf. There will be no outcome and we will be exactly where we are before the talks,” the BJP leader added.

“This is deliberate attempt to irritate India,” said S Chandrasekharan, director of the South Asia Analysis Group in New Delhi, according to Reuters.

Manzoor Ali Memon, a spokesman for the Pakistani embassy, confirmed the invitation and declined to comment further.

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