New Delhi - APHC leader from Held Kashmir on Sunday met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser Sartaj Aziz at Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, drawing a sharp reaction from hardline opposition party, BJP, which said the government of Manmohan Singh is committing a ‘diplomatic blunder’ by allowing this meeting.
Emerging from an hour-long meeting at the Pakistan High Commission, the moderate APHC faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the talks were aimed at finding a lasting political solution to the Kashmir issue, a key element for normalising ties between the two countries, reported Indian media.
Besides Mirwaiz, JKLF chief Yaseen Malik and hardline Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Dukhtaran-e-Millat had separate meetings with Aziz.
Geelani, who had arrived near Pakistan High Commission much before time, decided not to enter the premises till the team led by Mirwaiz was there. The moment they came out, Geelani went in.
“We want to see that the relations between the two countries are good and this would be possible only after the Kashmir issue is settled in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said.
To a question that the BJP had opposed their meeting with Aziz terming it anti-national, the Hurriyat Chairman replied, “I wonder how this is anti-national. The meeting is aimed at finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue which is in the interest of India, Pakistan as well as people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
BJP President Rajnath Singh said, “By allowing Sartaj Aziz to hold talks with Kashmiri leaders the Indian government has committed another diplomatic blunder with serious costs to national security and national interest.”
The Indian government, however, maintained it is not compromising in any way on the Kashmir issue.
Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, “The Hurriyat should also introspect on this matter that if they are really representatives of the people then they must participate in the democratic process.”
The Mirwaiz replied that Hurriyat had been meeting with Pakistani leaders during the BJP regime under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy LK Advani.
“Sad to see them (BJP) terming this meeting anti-India. In fact such talks must be encouraged,” he said, adding, “we seek cooperation not confrontation” from BJP and other political parties.
About the recent escalation of tension along the Line of Control (LoC), the Mirwaiz said, “military solution is no solution. We have been advocating peaceful means. Killing of soldiers on either side does not help.”
He said the recent border tension was discussed during their meeting.
The Hurriyat leader expressed happiness that Sartaj Aziz was meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Monday (today).
In a related development, Andrabi, whose kin have been arrested in Pakistan for allegedly being involved in terror activities, also met Aziz with two other women cadre of her organisation.
This is for the first time that Andrabi has come to the Pakistan mission and the meeting was possibly aimed at seeking help for release of her nephew, Syed Shoaib who was arrested in September this year.
According to reports, the charges levelled against Syed and other relatives of Andrabi include their association with Al-Qaeda and plans to carry out terror acts using explosive-laden toy planes.
Yaseen Malik said any initiative with regard to peace and end to human suffering must be encouraged.
Talking to reporters after his arrival in New Delhi, Sartaj Aziz said his country wants peace to prevail between Pakistan and India, adding that efforts are being made in this regard. The adviser would attend a two-day Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers meeting that would begin in New Delhi on Monday (today).