In what could be a major irritant to India, the Pakistan High Commission is said to have invited the separatist Kashmiri leaders to meet Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Sartaj Aziz during his visit to India on August 23. Mr Aziz is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval for NSA talks. The talks are being held following an agreement between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan at the bilateral talks in Ufa. The meeting with the Hurriyat leaders has been arranged on the same day of the NSA talks. This could further dampen the already hostile atmosphere prevailing between the two countries.
This development brings back memories of August 2014 when India had called off the foreign secretary level talks between both the countries after Pakistan had invited the separatist leaders to meet its foreign secretary. While there hasn’t been any official reaction from the Indian side so far on the invite to the separatists, it is unlikely that India would do a repeat of last August as the government seems to have made a firm resolve to continue engaging Pakistan. However, it would be interesting to see what India’s stand would be: whether they would continue to have reservations about the proposed meeting between Mr Aziz and the separatists while going ahead with the NSA talks. This would be a change from the previous stand taken by the government.
The NSA talks are coming at a significant time when both countries have decided to resume dialogue on contentious issues such as terrorism, LoC ceasefire violations and the recent terror attacks on Indian soil in Udhampur and Gurdaspur. These talks are also set the tone for further dialogue between the two countries. According to some news reports, Pakistan is keen on starting foreign secretary level-talks.
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