India asks Pakistan not to meet Kashmiri leaders

21st Aug 2015
India asks Pakistan not to meet Kashmiri leaders

By Zahid Rafiq

SRINAGAR, Indian-held Kashmir (AA): India has asked Pakistan to call off talks with leaders from Indian-held Kashmir as tensions between the two countries build ahead of bilateral security talks Sunday.

In a series of tweets Friday, India’s foreign ministry said it was opposed to the move despite Pakistan claiming it has always consulted with Kashmiri leaders before any talks with India.

“India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr. Sartaj Aziz to meet with [Kashmiri] Hurriyat representatives in India,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted. “Such a meeting would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism.”

He added that Pakistan has not confirmed the agenda for the talks between Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and India’s Ajit Doval.

While India wants to focus on militancy and security, Pakistan has come under domestic pressure to push for a resolution for Kashmir — the disputed Himalayan region split between the two countries.

The Kashmiri leaders invited to consult with Aziz when he arrives in New Delhi were all placed under house arrest Thursday to prevent them from attending the meeting but the decision was surprisingly reversed two hours later.

The talks between the two nuclear neighbors are thought to be hanging by a thread after India’s objection to the meeting of Pakistani officials and Kashmiri leaders.

Last year India cancelled foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries after a similar meeting.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

The two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 Kashmiris have been killed so far in the violence, most of them by Indian forces. India maintains over half a million soldiers in Indian held Kashmir.

A part of Kashmir is also held by China.

 

[Photo: Indian policemen throw stones at Kashmiri Muslim protesters in old city Srinagar the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir on July 17,2015. Photographer: Faisal Khan/Anadolu Agency]

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