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Pakistan envoy's invitation to Kashmiri separatists would hamper atmosphere for talks: Modi govt

Srinagar: Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptullah today said Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan would be able to break the ice between the two nations only if the intention of the neighbouring
PTI August 17, 2014 19:47 IST
PTI
Srinagar: Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptullah today said Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan would be able to break the ice between the two nations only if the intention of the neighbouring country was good.

“If their intention is good, then it surely will (break the ice). Our intention is good. The intention of our leader (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is good, otherwise he would not have invited (Pakistan Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif in his oath ceremony.

There has been a forward movement from our side but it takes two to tango,” Heptullah told reporters here.  The Union Minister said the move by Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, to invite separatist leaders from Kashmir for consultations at Delhi ahead of the talks between the two countries on August 25 in Islamabad would “certainly hamper” the atmosphere built for the talks.  

“Yes, certainly. The atmosphere is getting good from our side and now they have to see how good their intention is,” she said.

Heptullah said people should not have any apprehensions about the Modi government as they have seen the work done by the previous BJP government and how former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered a hand of friendship to Pakistan.  

“People had suspicions that first time the BJP had come to power with such a majority and I don't know why they had such suspicions. People had seen Vajpayee's government - what he did for Kashmir and for India and Pakistan relations.

“No other prime minister in the world has travelled in a bus to other country with a message of friendship. Vajpayee went to Pakistan and offered a hand of friendship. I am sure, had Vajpayee won again in 2004 elections, the situation in Kashmir would have been different,” she said.

She said PM Modi was treading the same path as Vajpayee and wants to take along the neighbouring countries.  “Modi is treading the path shown by Vajpayee.

The first evidence of that was when he called Sharif for his oath ceremony. And on August 15, he did not only talk about the development and prosperity of our own country, but called on the leaders of SAARC countries to come together and move forward,” she said.

The Minority Affairs Minister said Muslims were the most backward community among the minorities.  

“Last week I met Modi. He told me that Muslims had not got the rights that a person should get for living,” she said, adding “We have to shove away hatred. Our government under Modi talks about unity and brotherhood. He says ‘together with all, development for all'.”

She said the Kashmiri Pandits here have suffered a lot and the Centre wants that they should return to the Valley.

“They were made to leave their homes. Many of them are living in camps in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere in the country.  Is it not a loss for humanity? Is it not a violation of human rights? I am happy that Finance Minister allocated a separate amount for their rehabilitation in the budget, so that they return to their homes and with you together recreate the atmosphere of brotherhood,” she said.

Union Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh said that in case Pakistan sends out a signal that they are directly or indirectly trying to encourage separatism on Indian soil it is going to ultimately not only be affecting India adveresely but also going to boomerang on Pakistan.

“The onus lies on Pakistan and the powers that be in Islamabad to decide and determine what is best in their interests,” Singh, an MP from Jammu said.

Singh said there is no change in NDA government's policy on Pakistan and that it will be wrong to conclude tht anybody else can actually set an agenda for the Indian side to negotiate with the neighbouring country.

In a tweet, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said,” Pak High Comm feting separatists, Pak Army intruding across the border, ISI attacking Indian Consulate in Herat BJP govt sleeps Ache Din Agaye”.

Tewari told reporters that it is indeed a “strange and an ironical” situation that the Pakistani High Commissioner is “feting” the Kashmiri separatists.

“You not only have terror being perpetrated against Indian diplomatic missions but more importantly Indian sovereignty being violated and to top it all, you have Kashmiri separatists being hosted,” he added.

Tewari also raised a question as to whether the NDA government is under any kind of international pressure to hold talks with Pakistan.

Eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani, who met Shah in Srinagar yesterday, said the High Commissioner's invitation to the separatists was a “very good move” and he was “very optimistic” that something good will come out of it.

Jethmalani said yesterday that Kashmir Committee is still “alive” and doing its job, but sometimes had to work out of public eye.

The Committee was constituted in 2002 to reach out to separatists in Kashmir and Jethmalani earlier headed it.

Pakistan envoys have in the past too talked to separatists from Kashmir before any major diplomatic initiative with India.

However, Islamabad broke off from this tradition when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited India to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May this year.