Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday made it clear that its national security adviser Sartaz Aziz will meet Hurriyat leaders in India, calling them the “true representatives” of Kashmiri people.
A foreign office statement said New Delhi’s request that Aziz, who will fly to New Delhi on August 23 to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, should not meet the Hurriyat leaders was not acceptable.
Pakistan’s foreign secretary had conveyed to the Indian high commissioner here that India’s “advise” to Aziz was not acceptable to Islamabad.
“Kashmir is a disputed territory as per the UN Security Council resolutions which remain unimplemented,” the statement said. “Pakistani leadership has always interacted with the Kashmir/Hurriyat leadership during their visits to India.
“Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established past practice. Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people.
“Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute,” it said.
The foreign office said Pakistan was willing to attend the meeting of the two National Security Advisers “without any pre-conditions”.
Earlier, New Delhi said it had told Pakistan that it would “not be appropriate” for Aziz to meet Hurriyat representatives ahead of the August 23-24 meeting with Doval.
The Indian warning was conveyed on Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Pakistan’s political and military leadership held a meeting on Friday which was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and was also attended by Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif.
Aziz separately met Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, media reports said.
The meeting, however, reiterated Pakistani’s wish to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues with India through dialogue, the Pakistani media reported.
The Aziz-Doval meet follows a July meeting between Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, and could help to resume the dialogue process between the two countries.
Hurriyat leaders had been invited to a meeting with Aziz at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi ahead of the Aziz-Doval talks.
Indian officials maintained that the NSA-level talks may be called off if Aziz meets Hurriyat leaders.