SRINAGAR, November 9: Prominent Kashmiri separatist leaders will meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on security and foreign relations Sartaj Aziz, at the invitation of the Pakistan High Commission, in New Delhi on Sunday.
Sources said Deputy High Commissioner Rifat Masood communicated to the senior Hurriyat and JKLF leaders by telephone that Mr. Aziz intended to interact with them on the State’s latest political developments, the situation on the LoC and the International Border, besides India-Pakistan relations.
Mr. Aziz will be in the capital to attend a conference of the foreign ministers of some Asian and European countries.
Three delegations from the Valley will be separately holding meetings with their Pakistani host on Sunday evening. High Commissioner Salman Bashir is also expected to join the separatists’ first official meeting with a representative of the Nawaz Sharif government. Mr. Aziz had previously maintained liaison with the Kashmiri separatists when he functioned as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in Mr. Sharif’s government in 1998-99.
A four-member delegation from the Hurriyat’s moderate faction, led by its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, arrived in New Delhi on Saturday. Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Gani Lone and Masroor Abbas Ansari are other members of the group scheduled to meet Mr. Aziz. JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and head of the Hurriyat’s so-called radical faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani will be reaching the venue on Sunday.
“We will be discussing India-Pakistan friendship, the situation on the borders and the latest political developments in the region. We will study the continuation of Islamabad’s Kashmir policy and the changes, if any, being introduced by the new dispensation in Pakistan. We will see how the Kashmiris could be associated with the current peace process between the two countries as no solution is possible without their participation,” Mr. Malik told The Hindu.
Mr. Mirwaiz described the scheduled meeting as “very very significant” as it would be the Hurriyat’s maiden interaction with an emissary of the Sharif government. He said the Kashmiris had always appreciated Islamabad’s “political, diplomatic and moral support to the freedom struggle” but complained that no mechanism had been devised to involve them in the bilateral peace process.
The Hurriyat, he told The Hindu, would also discuss with Mr. Aziz the recent border skirmishes that took place in Jammu and Kashmir, the security scenario in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region and its likely impact on Kashmir after the United States withdrew its forces from Kabul in 2014 besides the “urgent need” to include the Kashmiris in the current peace process.