A day after he conceded that the timing of Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit’s meeting with Hurriyat leaders was “perhaps not totally right,” Pakistan national security and foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz on Monday said they would continue to meet the separatists.
Aziz also reiterated that it was up to India to resume the dialogue because “it was India who called off the talks.”
Referring to Hurriyat leaders as ‘important stakeholders,’ Aziz, who advises Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, told HT on the phone from Islamabad that Pakistan would continue to hold meetings with the separatist outfit. “We will always meet them each time we are holding talks on the issue of Kashmir. Any solution to Kashmir has to be acceptable to the people of Kashmir,” he said.
Asked why he thought the meeting between Basit and the Hurriyat was ill-timed, Aziz said the Indian media had reported his statement partially. “I used the word probably because the two foreign secretaries were meeting to see how to take the dialogue forward. They were not slated to have any substantive talks on the issue of Kashmir.”
Asked if there was pressure from the US on resuming the talks with India, Aziz said, “Many in New York said they would like to see the dialogue being resumed but our position is clear – we did not call off the talks, India did.”
The meeting between India and Pakistan’s foreign secretaries, to be held on August 25, was called off after Basit held talks with separatist leader Shabir Shah.