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Millennium Post

Unacceptable and insulting

Just what are the limits of Pakistan’s consular taunts directed at India? If the escalated levels of incursions and infiltrations across the LOC were not enough, Sartaz Aziz, the national security and foreign affairs adviser to the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, went ahead and met the faces of Kashmiri separatism in the national capital even before he exchanged greetings with the external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. That too during a visit whose official purpose is to attend the multilateral, foreign minister-level Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) taking place on 11-12 November in Gurgaon. Clearly, having a rendezvous at the Pakistan high commission with secessionists – such as Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference, as well as Yasin Malik, chief of the hardline Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani – a day before the Pak envoy graced his Indian counterpart with a visit is indication enough of what the latest diplomatic convention would yield, at least on the Indo-Pak bilateral talk front. Already the principal opposition BJP has lambasted the UPA government for allowing this ‘diplomatic blunder’ to occur on Indian soil, with the saffron party chief Rajnath Singh thoroughly criticising the state leniency in the wake of hiked acts of aggression across the border.

And even though the stated reasons for the meetings were reported to be discussing peace and security in Kashmir, Indo-Pak ‘friendship’, among others, what could be more ironical than the union government not doing anything about such a blatant misuse of a multilateral forum for narrow partisan ends. This after the friendly overtures from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif at the sidelines of the UNGA conference in New York in September were practically scoffed at, with reports of Sharif terming Singh a ‘village woman’ raking up a diplomatic and media muck storm on both sides of the border.

In fact, what is even more ironical is that Aziz’s meeting the Kashmiri separatists on Indian soil comes after Khurshid had categorically stated that the precondition for talks with Pakistan is peace across the LOC. Not has the ceasefire been repeatedly flouted, but of late, Indian Mujahideen, the homebred Islamic fundamentalist outfit that has blessings from Pak-based global terrorist groups, has carried out terror attacks targeting the election campaign rallies of India’s top leaders, chiefly Narendra Modi. In such a scenario, with peace and national security held hostage both internally and externally, how can the government not blink and allow the meeting to take place? Agreed that in a different, relatively calmer situation, the meeting could have still found some flimsy ground, say freedom of political expression and to congregate, among other rights. But in the delicate context of continued violations of ceasefire, breach of national security at multiple levels, as well as possibility of adding new fuel to the fire of troubles in the Kashmir valley staring us in the face, Aziz’s meeting with separatists is a slap on the face of India’s national integrity and claims over the northern state. In fact, unlike the centre, Omar Abdullah has done a better job of managing his adversaries and secessionists and keeping them in check.
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