Sartaj Aziz: Pak Will Continue To Meet Hurriyat

2 October 2014
Kashmir Observer

New Delhi: Even as indications had started to emerge that Pakistan's public admission that its envoy's talks with Hurriyat leaders reflected 'poor timing' might open the way for resumption of official dialogue with India, Sartaj Aziz- the national security and foreign affairs advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Tuesday stressed that Pakistan would indeed continue to meet and engage with the 'Pro-Freedom' leadership in Kashmir. A day after he conceded that the timing of Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit's meeting with Hurriyat leaders was 'perhaps not totally right,' Sartaj Aziz said they would continue to meet them, Hindustan Times reported. Referring to Hurriyat leaders as 'important stakeholders,' Aziz, told the newspaper on the phone from Islamabad that Pakistan would continue to hold meetings with the separatist outfit. 'We will always meet them each time we are holding talks on the issue of Kashmir. Any solution to Kashmir has to be acceptable to the people of Kashmir,' he said. Aziz also reiterated that it was up to India to resume the dialogue because 'it was India who called off the talks.' Asked why he thought the meeting between Basit and the Hurriyat was ill-timed, Aziz said the Indian media had reported his statement partially. 'I used the word probably because the two foreign secretaries were meeting to see how to take the dialogue forward. They were not slated to have any substantive talks on the issue of Kashmir.' Asked if there was pressure from the US on resuming the talks with India, Aziz said, 'Many in New York said they would like to see the dialogue being resumed but our position is clear - we did not call off the talks, India did.' The meeting between India and Pakistan's foreign secretaries, to be held on August 25, was called off after Basit held talks with separatist leader Shabir Shah. From the Indian point of view, this was the first time Pakistan was meeting Hurriyat leaders before bilateral talks in Islamabad and had crossed the red line. The Modi government took some flak from commentators in both India and Pakistan after India called off the talks. Pakistan has been meeting the Hurriyat leaders before every bilateral meeting and there was nothing to it, they said. They also said Hurriyat was an irrelevant group and Modi's decision to call off talks with Pakistan had only given them a fresh lease of life. But the Indian government argued differently. It said Hurriyat's relevance kept getting burnished every time the Pakistani government met them without a blowback from India. Some of PM's officials wondered how Pakistan would react if Indian officials met Baloch separatists. India's Minister for External Affairs- Sushma Swaraj has said, Pakistan would have to adjust to the fact that India has a new government and a new foreign policy. Pakistan failed to understand the foreign policy of the Modi government- that India would not take these transgressions lightly any longer, she said.