Kashmir was the buzz word as Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit hosted an Eid Milan in the national capital, with Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq expressing his unhappiness at the issue being left out of the statement issued after a recent meeting of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan.
Basit set the tone during his brief speech at Tuesday’s event that was attended diplomats, leaders of the moderate Hurriyat faction, clerics and journalists.
"All problems between our countries, including Jammu and Kashmir, must be resolved through talks. Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to improve ties," he said.
Abdul Basit set the tone during his brief speech at the event. (HT Photo)
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the head of the moderate Hurriyat faction, told the media he had conveyed to Basit his unhappiness at the exclusion of the Kashmir issue in the statement issued after the July 10 meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city of Ufa.
Farooq, who flew in from Srinagar to attend the Eid Milan, said "by ignoring Kashmir, the talks between India and Pakistan will lead nowhere". He said he had conveyed his views to the Pakistani envoy during a meeting after the Eid Milan.
Hurriyat leaders attend Pakistan High Commission's Eid Milan
The Kashmir issue has to be addressed if the two countries want to build trust, he said.
Farooq said he had been told by Basit that Kashmir was discussed by the two Prime Ministers and that backchannel Track II diplomacy would be revived to address such issues.
Hardline Hurriyat faction leader Ali Shah Geelani boycotted the Eid Milan at the Pakistan high commission to protest against the non-inclusion of Kashmir in talks between the two countries.
Basit also told the gathering that the time has come for India and Pakistan to move from "confrontation to cooperation" after 67 years of conflict. He said the Pakistan government is committed to the normalisation of bilateral ties.
Relations between the neighbours appeared to have thawed when Modi and Sharif agreed at a recent meeting in Russia to take forward stalled bilateral ties, though frequent border skirmishes continue to test a fragile peace process.
Farooq said violence had abated in Jammu and Kashmir but all stakeholders mustn't wait for the last gun to fall silent. Some youngsters were still taking to militancy because they thought politics had failed, he added.
Despite a change of government in the state and at the Centre, not much had changed for Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
"In fact, the divide between Jammu and Kashmir is increasing," Farooq said and put the onus on India for taking things forward with Pakistan. "It depends on New Delhi, if it is serious to engage and move forward.”