When it comes to diplomacy over the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan just can’t seem to get it right. Leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has refused to attend the Eid Milan party hosted by the Pakistan High Commission this year. The Eid Milan party is a tradition, and such events help solidify the bond between the people of Kashmir and Pakistan. The refusal is an affront to Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts and will be a setback in the newly opened talks with India. India gets to see cracks in the Kashmir-Pakistan relationship, and a weakening of Pakistan’s stand over Kashmir. This is not a signal we want to broadcast.

Geelani stated that the Kashmir issue was completely ignored in the joint statement between India and Pakistan, after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian premier Modi met in Ufa. As far as the Hurriyat’s goals go, Geelani is right. The frustration is understandable. We have always stood by the Hurriyat, yet, when was the last time we were able to talk about them to the Indian government?

We know that involving the Kashmiri leaders in the peace process and dialogue with India is important. We also know that the Hurriyat leaders are made to feel that the Kashmiri people have no say in their fate. Issues of Indian involvement in internal affairs, Balochistan, river management and Siachin are all as important as the Kashmir issue. Pakistani foreign policy has left no doubt about this.

Pakistan’s efforts for Kashmir either annoy the Indian government, or end up upsetting Kashmiri leaders. Looking back, just last year, the Pakistan High Commissioner’s invitation to the Hurriyat leaders for consultations was followed by India getting offended and cancelling foreign secretary level talks. Pakistan has always maintained that their relationship with the Kashmir Hurriyat leaders has been a traditional one, where dialogue is encouraged. This is regardless of India’s stance of keeping the Pak-India talks strictly “bilateral”. In this scenario, does the Hurriyat expect Pakistan to pause talks with India until the Kashmir issue is acknowledged? Though many in Pakistan would say yes, Foreign Affairs Minister Sartaj Aziz’ statements suggest otherwise. He has repeatedly said that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is definitely going to be addressed in the formal dialogue. He has insisted that the Ufa meeting was a first step to both countries reducing hostility. The idea is that Pakistan will come to this issue, when the time is right. Yet, the time has not been right for decades. How long should we wait for India to get over its petulance? We must not appear to be weak with our demands, but a resolution of the Kashmir issue can’t just be all Pakistan’s responsibility.