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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

India to skip Pakistan national Day event over invite to Hurriyat leaders

It was also decided that the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad would also not attend Pakistan National Day event there, Kumar added

india Updated: Mar 22, 2019 19:18 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Pakistan National Day is observed every year on March 23, though the Pakistan high commission had decided to organise the reception this year on March 22.
The Pakistan National Day is observed every year on March 23, though the Pakistan high commission had decided to organise the reception this year on March 22.(Reuters)

New Delhi decided to boycott the Pakistan Day reception after Islamabad did not respond to a message that Indian representatives would stay away if Hurriyat Conference representatives were invited to the event, people familiar with developments said on Friday.

The message was conveyed to Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner when he was called in to the external affairs ministry on Wednesday afternoon, the people said. The government waited till Thursday and decided not to send any official representative to the reception, held on Friday, after there was no response from the Pakistani side, the people added.

Pakistan Day, which commemorates both the passing of the Lahore Resolution on creating an independent country for the Muslims of British India in 1940 and the adoption of Pakistan’s first Constitution in 1956, is observed every year on March 23. The Pakistani mission in New Delhi decided to organise the reception this year on March 22.

No representative of the Indian high commission will also attend the reception to be held in Islamabad on Saturday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a news briefing.

“I can confirm that India has decided not to send any representative to attend the Pakistan Day (event in New Delhi). This decision was taken after the Pakistan high commission decided to invite the Hurriyat representatives to the reception,” he said.

“We are very clear that any attempt by the Pakistan high commission or the Pakistani leadership to engage with the Hurriyat representatives will not be taken lightly and this is what we’ve said in the past as well,” Kumar added.

Since it came to power in 2014, the NDA government has frowned on Pakistan’s efforts to engage the separatist leaders of the Hurriyat. However, it has sent an official representative, usually a minister, to Pakistan Day receptions to which Hurriyat leaders were also invited.

Pakistan’s outreach to the Hurriyat has also led to the cancellation of official talks by India on two occasions since 2014. In January, India was angered by Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s phone conversation with Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq about Kashmir-related events being held in London and officials had said at the time this amounted to “crossing a red line”.

During the briefing, Kumar also dismissed Pakistan’s criticism of the acquittal of the four accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express train bombing, saying India has an independent judiciary whose functions are guaranteed by the Constitution. Due process was followed in the matter and the verdict was based on the merit of the case, the accounts of witnesses and others materials.

“There was no cooperation from Pakistan whatsoever, including with the serving of summons to witnesses in Pakistan. We reject Pakistan’s attempt to politicise the matter, which is being done to deflect attention from their failure in bringing the perpetrators of several terrorist attacks in India and the region to justice,” he said.

“We demand that Pakistan take immediate, credible and irreversible measures against cross-border terrorism without any discrimination and without resorting to such gimmicks,” he added.

Responding to a question, Kumar said France had taken up the issue of listing Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the European Union. This was done after France’s internal listing of Azhar as a designated terrorist.

“We understand that the EU will take a decision once their process of designating a terrorist is complete. It has to be a unanimous decision which will involve all countries of the EU,” he said.

First Published: Mar 22, 2019 16:13 IST

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