Pakistan quietly builds bridges with Hurriyat leader Geelani

New Delhi/Srinagar: Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had a guest from Kashmir earlier this week -hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani ‘s son-in-law Altaf Shah – in what is being seen as an effort at rebuilding bridges after the senior separatist leader decided against attending the Eid Milan at the Pakistan High Commission last month.

Shah, who is married to Geelani’s second daughter and is a businessman, spent around half an hour at the Pakistan High Commission on Thursday late afternoon, knowledgeable sources told Media Sources.


Shah, in his 50s, is known to be close to his father in law. He said he had discussed some “personal issues” with Basit, and declined to elaborate.

However, the meeting holds significance, as Geelani’s rebuff to the Pakistani invite for the July 21 Eid Milan was viewed as a “setback” to Islamabad’s efforts to get all the separatists together.

Pakistani daily The Nation in an editorial had termed Geelani’s refusal “an affront to Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts and will be a setback in the newly-opened talks with India”. Geelani, 85, had decided to “boycott” the Eid Milan function in protest against any mention of Kashmir in the joint statement read out after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia on July 10.

The Huriyat Conference sources did not deny the meeting, and said it was meant for “personal work”.

The meeting with Basit also comes ahead of the August 23-24 National Security Advisor-level talks between India and Pakistan, during which terrorism is to be discussed. The Gurdaspur and Udhampur terror attacks by suspected Pakistani terrorists is set to figure prominently in the talks.

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