The scheduled security talks between Pakistan and India hangs in balance over contentious Kashmir issue after Pakistan announced it will meet with leaders from Indian-held Kashmir on Friday. New Delhi reacted to the meeting as “inappropriate.”
Pakistan's Foreign Policy Chief Sartaj Aziz is expected to visit India on Aug. 23 for security talks with his counterpart Ajit Doval, to restart dialogue between the South Asian rival neighbors.
The talks came after an agreement between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif for a new round of talks when they met in Russia on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
Aziz said he will meet with All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani along with leaders of the moderate faction Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq before the talks in India, but New Delhi called Islamabad to call off talks and put Kashmiri leaders under house arrest briefly yesterday.
India's foreign ministry expressed the country’s objection to Pakistan’s consultation with Kashmiri leaders before any talks with India on Twitter.
"India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr. Sartaj Aziz to meet with [Kashmiri] Hurriyat representatives in India. Such a meeting would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a series of post on Twitter.
Hoıwever, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said the planned meeting with the Hurriyat leaders will go on, saying “consultations with them are a routine matter,” during in a news briefing in Islamabad.
"There is nothing unusual in such meetings and it has been normal practice for Pakistan to consult Hurriyat leaders prior to high level meeting with India."
"Kashmiris are important stakeholders in the context of Jammu and Kashmir dispute and efforts to seek its peaceful settlement in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolutions," he added.
While Pakistan announced the Kashmir issue will be on the agenda for India talks, New Delhi claimed there is no confirmed agenda for the talks between Aziz and Doval.
After being released from brief detention on Thursday, Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the Indian government was "confused" and their aim was "supporting the India and Pakistan dialogue," AP reported.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have experienced renewed violence after the latest rapprochement effort, as a series of attacks and border skirmishes along the disputed Kashmir border. India cancelled talks with Pakistan on August 2014 after growing tension over the disputed Kashmir region between the two rival neighbors, which fought three wars since gaining Independence.
Aziz said with his visit he hopes to "at least break the ice on some of a range of outstanding issues," as he announced the planned talks last week.
Media reports suggest that Pakistan's main issue will be India’s alleged support for militant groups in the province of Balochistan, and other tribal areas during the talks.
India, on the other hand, is expected to bring the long standing dispute of Kashmir to the table, as well as its claims of Pakistani support to armed groups in the Muslim majority region, such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is accused of carrying out several deadly attacks against Indian forces.
Pakistan rejects the accusations saying it only gives moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in the face of human rights abuses.
Pakistan on Thursday also canceled the Commonwealth parliamentary conference, which is supposed to be held in Islamabad on Sept. 30, because India said lawmakers from Indian-held Kashmir to attend.
India and Pakistan fought three wars over Kashmir region since the partition of British India in 1947 when Muslims and Hindus agreed to declare their own independent states.
Since 1989 Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against New Delhi rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan. More than 100,000 Kashmiri people have been killed under the occupation, with thousands of people being disappeared and jailed. India maintains over half a million soldiers in Indian- held Kashmir. A part of Kashmir is also held by China.