Need Atmosphere Free Of Terror: PM To Sharif

23 March 2015

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of two back-to-back attacks in Jammu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif that an atmosphere free of terror and violence is required for resolving all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue. He underlined the message to Sharif on Pakistan's National Day while greeting him in a letter. 'I have written to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan,' Modi tweeted. 'It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror & violence,' he said in another tweet. The Prime Minister's emphasis on atmosphere free from terror and violence assumes significance as only last week J&K was hit by two attacks in as many days in Kathua and Samba areas. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan were today back to sparring over Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leaders' confabulations with Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit, with New Delhi making it clear that there was no role for a third party. Basit, who has held meetings with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other separatist leaders and also invited them to the Pakistan National Day celebrations here, said that India was not against these interactions. 'I don't think Indian Government is objecting. I would rather suggest my media friends not to make an issue out of a non-issue,' Basit said on the sidelines of an event here to mark the Pakistan National Day. However, India hit out, saying 'the Government of India prefers to speak for itself'. 'Having repeated it on so many occasions there should be no scope for misunderstanding or misrepresenting India's position on the role of the so called Hurriyat. 'Let me reiterate there are only two parties and there is no place for a third party in resolution of India-Pakistan issues,' spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said. India had called off Foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan last year after Basit held consultations with Hurriyat leaders on the eve of the official talks. The MEA spokesperson added that 'the only way forward to proceed on all outstanding issues is a peaceful bilateral dialogue within the framework of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration.' The Mirwaiz along with Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Bilal Gani Lone, Aga Syed Hassan, Mussadiq Adil and Mukhtar Ahmad Waza had gone to Basit's residence yesterday night for talks. This meeting comes a fortnight after Basit had gone to the Delhi residence of hardline Hurriyat leader Geelani and updated him about the visit of Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to Islamabad and issues discussed during his meetings there. While meetings between Pakistani diplomats and Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leaders have been a regular practice for the last 30 years, the issue has always irked India, which has maintained that resolution of Indo-Pak issues including Jammu and Kashmir have to be done bilaterally between the leadership of the two countries. Justifying their consultations with Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit here, Kashmiri separatist leaders today said they were trying to assist India and Pakistan in resolving the 'complex' issue of Kashmir which needed a political approach. They also downplayed Basit's invitation to them for attending Pakistan's National Day celebrations. Chairman of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who met Basit yesterday, said the 'complex' Kashmir issue needed a 'political approach'. 'Hurriyat's main agenda is that stakeholders involved - India, Pakistan and Kashmiris - will have to move together to solve the problem. It is the only way out to avoid killing of innocent civilians and Army men and other destruction. 'They (the stakeholders) have to find a solution to the problem. All of us understand one fact that there cannot be a military solution and there can be no solution through violence. So, how do we move forward? We try to engage with everyone,' he said while wondering why his meeting Basit was being portrayed negatively. Echoing similar sentiments, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik said he has been attending the Pakistan National Day celebrations over the past 22 years, he said. Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs Minister V K Singh today represented the Government at the Pakistan National Day reception at the High Commission here amidst the controversy sparked by Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit's comments that India was not against his interactions with Kashmiri separatist leaders. Singh, former Army Chief, attended the celebrations, where several Kashmiri separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yaseen Malik were also present. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar also present. Meanwhile, shortly after representing the Government at the national day reception at Pakistan High Commission tonight which kicked up a storm, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh issued a series of intriguing tweets defining 'disgust' and 'duty' indicating that he may have been unhappy at being deputed to it. In the first of the five quick tweets, Singh, a former Army Chief, said, 'To offend the moral sense, principles, or taste of'. This was immediately followed by another which said, 'To sicken or fill with loathing'. While the third tweet said, 'A job or service allocated,' the fourth one said,'The force that binds one morally or legally to one's obligations'. The last tweet said,'A task or action that a person is bound to perform for moral or legal reasons'. Earlier tonight, Singh told reporters after attending the reception that he was asked by the Government to represent it at the function. 'The Government of India has to send an MoS. They sent me and I went there and came back,' he said replying to a question about his presence at the reception. Asked specifically whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to attend the event, he said, 'The Government of India asked me to go there.' Former Union Minister and Congress leader Mani Shankar was Aiyar, who attended the reception, pitched for 'uninterrupted' talks with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues. 'I think it is foolish to break the talks on the pretext that the Pakistan High Commissioner met the Hurriyat leaders. There should be uninterrupted dialogue,' Aiyar said. He said talks between Pakistan High Commissioner and Hurriyat had started when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister and it continued during the UPA rule.