NEW DELHI–A spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Monday said there is no place for a third party in the dialogue process with Pakistan, reported Times of India.
“Let me reiterate there are only two parties and there is no place for a third party in resolution of India-Pakistan issues. The only way forward to proceed on all outstanding issues is a peaceful bilateral dialogue within the framework of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration,” the spokesperson said.
This statement is seen as a response to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit’s remark earlier today, when he underplayed his meeting with Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi, according to Times of India.
“I don’t think the government of India is objecting to our meeting with Hurriyat leaders,” Abdul Basit told reporters on Monday on the occasion of Pakistan Day. “Don’t try to make an issue out of [a] non-issue,” he said.
He further said that Pakistan has been “serious and sincere about resolving issues with India through peaceful dialogue”.
“The need of the hour is that India and Pakistan engage in a peaceful bilateral dialogue,” Basit said. “We cannot resolve or settle our problems by use of force.”
The high commissioner further said: “The agenda of the Indian and Pakistani PM is common. This is a golden opportunity.”
According to media reports, Pakistan had extended an invitation to released Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam to attend its Republic Day celebrations but he did not attend the function.
Meanwhile, DawnNews reported on Monday that Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said unless the stance of Kashmir’s people is accepted, peace talks will be meaningless.
The chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, had met Basit on Sunday for a one-on-one meeting at the latter’s residence. The Pakistan envoy had told Farooq about Islamabad’s stand during talks held between Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and his Indian counterpart S. Jaishanker.
This meeting took place one month after Basit had gone to Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s residence in Delhi to update him about the talks.
Before meeting with the Pakistani high commissioner, Mirwaiz explained that his group had always been in favour of acting “as a bridge” between the two countries and coming to a last solution for the Kashmir issue in order to strengthen peace between the two neighbours.
“Both the countries have been holding talks with each other for nearly six decades but no solution has emerged,” said Farooq. “We in Hurriyat believe that we can become a platform, a bridge where the two countries can build and consolidate peace in the entire region.”
Along with Mirwaiz, the delegation included Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Bilal Gani Lone, Aga Syed Hassan, Mussadiq Adil and Mukhtar Ahmad Waza.
Mirwaiz also said that the Hurriyat Conference has always been in favour of the two countries talking and coming to a solution over all outstanding issues.
The Mirwaiz faction of the Hurriyat has held talks with the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Manmohan Singh and has supported negotiations between the two countries.
The Narendra Modi government however cancelled foreign secretary-level talks in August 2014 after Pakistani high commissioner had met Kashmiri separatist leaders, ignoring calls by the Indian government to not pursue it.
However, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed an alliance with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir, it was concurred that all stakeholders “irrespective of their ideological views and predilections” will be taken on board.
The agenda for the PDP-BJP alliance said: “coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders, which will include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections. This dialogue will seek to build a broad-based consensus on resolution of all outstanding issues of Jammu and Kashmir”.
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
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