New Delhi: Unfazed by India's decision to call off Foreign Secretary-level talks, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday went ahead with his talks with moderate and hardline Kashmiri separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
After their meetings with the envoy, the separatist leaders attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policy on resolving Kashmir issue. "I am surprised that Modi Saheb had announced that he will follow (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee's policy in resolving issues. So, where is he heading to? Vajpayee saheb had facilitated our meetings with Pakistani leadership and even
encouraged us to hold talks with militant groups to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue," the Mirwaiz and JKLF Chief Yaseen Malik, who had separate meetings with the envoy, said.
About their discussions with Basit, the Mirwaiz said he apprised him about the situation in the Kashmir Valley and added that the move to hold talks with the separatist leadership despite opposition from India was "highly appreciated".
Fire-brand hardliner and pro-Pakistan separatist Geelani also said Pakistan's decision to hold the talks was a "right" decision.
None of the separatist leaders was allowed to speak to the media by Delhi Police personnel who asked them to leave the place immediately because of strict enforcement of Section 144 of CrPC.
Malik alleged the government was trying to choke the voice of separatists. "I wonder now we can't even speak to the media. What is happening? Previous seven Prime Ministers of this country have encouraged dialogue and now Mr Modi comes and chokes everything. So, does this mean others were wrong and he is only Mr right?" he said.
The Mirwaiz drew attention to 'Operation Prarakaram' when India pushed its troops to the border, a move equally responded to by Pakistan. "What happened after that? Both the countries were at the negotiating table after the economy suffered a lot," he said.
Regretting the decision of New Delhi to cancel the talks, the Mirwaiz said "an atmosphere of peace was in the air and we had hoped that the invite to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for oath-taking ceremony was a nice move.
"However, this move (of calling off of talks) has left a bad taste among the people of Kashmir," he said.