Kashmir talks falter before they even get started

The hostility between Pakistan and India dates back to the time India gained independence in 1947. Picture: AP
The hostility between Pakistan and India dates back to the time India gained independence in 1947. Picture: AP
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TALKS between the top security advisers of neighbours and arch-rivals India and Pakistan have hit several roadblocks over the contentious Kashmir region before they’ve even started.

Pakistan’s Sartaz Aziz is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi to meet India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval tomorrow, just as both countries have upped their rhetoric over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Yesterday, India said it would not be “appropriate” for Mr Aziz to meet Indian Kashmir’s separatist leaders. Pakistan’s high commissioner to New Delhi had invited those leaders for a meeting with Mr Aziz.

“India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr Sartaj Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives during his visit to India,” Vikas Swarup, the spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Mr Swarup also said that India had sought a confirmation of the agenda for the talks from Pakistan. According to Indian officials, the talks are meant to discuss terrorism in the region.

On Thursday, several separatist leaders were briefly held in Srinagar, the main city of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

One of them, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said the Indian government was “confused” ahead of the talks. He said the aim of their visit to New Delhi was “supporting the India and Pakistan dialogue.” The meeting between Mr Aziz and Mr Doval signals the resumption of dialogue between the two countries, a year after India cancelled talks between the two foreign secretaries and after Pakistan consulted Kashmiri separatists.

The hostility between Pakistan and India dates back to the time that India gained independence from British rule in 1947 and the state of Pakistan was created, but the rift has grown since Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was elected prime minister last year.

Skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani troops in the disputed region of Kashmir have also increased in recent months. Pakistan on Thursday also cancelled an upcoming conference of lawmakers from Commonwealth countries after India demanded that legislators from Indian-held Kashmir also be included.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has said that it hoped that India will allow Kashmiri leaders to meet with Aziz in New Delhi.

“Kashmiris are important stakeholders in the context of the Kashmir dispute and efforts to seek its peaceful settlement in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions,” spokesman Qazi Khalilullah told reporters on Thursday.

Noor Mohammed Baba, who teaches political science at the Central University of Kashmir said preventing Kashmiri separatist leaders from meeting the Pakistani official showed that the Indian government did not have a well-thought out policy.