2:00 pm: Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s national security advisor will meet the Hurriyet Conference leaders in New Delhi while on his visit to India on August 23, a top official said on Thursday.
Aziz will meet with the leaders for routine consultations, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said during a briefing in Islamabad.
Pakistan and India are in the process of finalising the agenda for the national security advisor (NSA)-Level talks in New Delhi on August 23, Radio Pakistan reported.
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Srinagar: Senior Kashmiri separatist leaders were on Thursday placed under house arrest here ahead of their scheduled meeting with Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi.
“Separatist leaders have been placed under house arrest in Srinagar to maintain law and order,” a senior police officer told Media Sources
Hurriyat’s moderate faction chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was placed under house arrest in the morning in his Nigeen residence.
“A posse of police arrived at Mirwaiz’s residence and placed him under arrest today (Thursday) morning. Another senior leader of the conglomerate Moulana Abbas Ansari too was put under house arrest. Houses of senior Hurriyat leaders Javaid Ahmad Mir and my residence were raided by police early morning,” Shahid-ul-Islam, secretary of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, told Media Sources.
“We have apprehension that the police action is planned to pre-empt our scheduled meeting with Sartaj Aziz in Delhi (on August 23)”, he added.
Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for a meeting with Aziz ahead of the India-Pakistan NSA-level talks scheduled on August 23.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani was put under detention in his uptown Hyderpora residence in the city.
“I am ill. I have a bad chest and have been under house arrest since April 17 this year,” Geelani told IANS over phone.
He said his political movement has been curtailed by the state authorities.
Pro-Independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said he was arrested by police from his Maisuma residence in Srinagar and taken to Kothibagh police station.
Pakistan’s invite to Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the NSA talks was “designed to scuttle” the August 23-24 parley, and follows a typical pattern the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment has been following since the Ufa talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to heighten tension, sources said on Wednesday.
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The government was adopting a “wait and watch” mode and is keeping “all its options open” on the slated talks in New Delhi between India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz.
The July 10 talks in Ufa, Russia, brought in a sense of bonhomie between the two neighbours, with a joint statement issued, which included the NSA talks in New Delhi to discuss the issue of terrorism.
But immediately after that, tension was ratcheted up by Pakistan over the Ufa meeting, with cross border firings, in which mortar shells were used, then the Gurdaspur and Udhampur attacks followed, and the latest was the invite to the Hurriyat on August 23 to meet Aziz.
“The game plan is very clear – to scuttle the talks from day one,” said the sources, adding that they were watching to see how the situation evolves.
“We are monitoring the situation, and will respond appropriately,” the sources said, but declined to elaborate on what it means by “appropriately”.
Aziz also took “20 days” to confirm if he would attend the talks, adding to the atmosphere of uncertainty.
Since Kashmir is not to be discussed between the two NSAs, inviting the Kashmiri separatists does not really make sense.
While India maintains that talks and terror cannot go together, it was not shying from talks on terror, said the sources.
India had called off the foreign secretary-level talks on August 25 last year after the Pakistani envoy met the Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting, despite India requesting him not to do so and warning that it would adversely impact the talks.
But in this case, the meeting is yet to take place between Aziz and the separatists on August 23.
Pakistan’s ratcheting up of tension comes even it is on losing ground among countries in the region.
Afghanistan has openly hit out at Pakistan for terror attacks, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a series of tweets on August 10, asking Pakistan to refrain from launching terror attacks on his country.
During Prime Minister Modi’s visit, India and the United Arab Emirates, a former close friend of Pakistan, issued a joint statement on terror that in clear terms speaks against nations exporting terror in the name of religion and calls for the dismantling of terrorism infrastructure and bring perpetrators to justice.
Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday said the Pakistan envoy in Delhi invited them for talks with Sartaj Aziz before he holds talks with his Indian counterpart.
“The Pakistan envoy wants us (Geelani and party leaders) to meet Sartaj Aziz before his talks with India,” Akbar told Media Sources.
Both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other separatist leaders such as Yasin Malik and Naeem Khan have been invited by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit for talks on August 23.
Mirwaiz Farooq’s spokesperson Shahid-Ul-Islam confirmed the invite and said: “We have been invited for the reception of Sartaj Aziz on the day of the NSA talks. But we are yet to take a decision.”
The Mirwaiz told TimesNow: “This (invitation) should not be perceived as a negative development. Let this be a beginning (to resolve issues).”
In September 2014, India called off the foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan as Islamabad invited the separatist leaders for talks.