New Delhi, Aug 17: Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit‘s invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders for meetings before the foreign secretary-level talks sparked off controversy Sunday with the Congress objecting to it and attacking the government for “double standards” while the ruling BJP termed the move “old tactics”. Congress leader Manish Tewari asked why India was going ahead with foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan when the Pakistani high commissioner had invited Kashmiri separatists for talks.
He said that allowing Abdul Basit to talk to the separatist leaders ahead of Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh’s visit to Islamabad represented lack of diplomacy. ”You have the Pakistan high commissioner calling separatist leaders for talks. Where has the diplomacy gone? Is this government going to endorse the behaviour of Pakistan,” Tewari told TimesNow news channel.
The government should explain the nature of the meeting between the envoy and the separatist leaders Aug 18-19, he demanded. Sujatha Singh will be in Pakistan Aug 25 for talks with her counterpart Aizaz Ahmad. Former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid accused the government of double standards. He said the decision to hold foreign secretary level talks was not in sync with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s stated opposition to talks with Pakistan while it was in the opposition.
“The BJP had been constantly saying that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand. Is that all forgotten,” he asked. BJP spokesperson M.J. Akbar, however, said Pakistan’s “gesture” was to go back to “old tactics of finding things to disagree”. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enunciated that the common purpose of the two governments should be the elimination of poverty, and termed it unfortunate that Pakistan chooses to dwell on creating impossible conditions when beneficial things can happen between the neighbours.
Meanwhile, an official of the moderate Hurriyat group told IANS that its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, as well all members of the moderate group, had been invited for consultations by the Pakistan high commissioner. Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani has also been invited for consultations.