India Hits Out at Pak for Calling Separatists 'Stakeholders'

India today strongly hit out at Pakistan for describing Kashmiri separatists as 'stakeholders' in the resolution of Kashmir problem, saying as per Simla Agreement it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and any other approach will "not yield results".

It also criticised Pakistan for making assurances that "had no meanings", be it on not allowing the country or territories under its control to be used for anti-India terrorism or investigations and trials of Mumbai terror attacks, which were conspired, hatched and carried out by Pak- based terror outfits.

Asked about Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit's remarks justifying his meeting with Kashmiri separatists, Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said, "After 1972 and the signing of the Simla Agreement by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, there are only two 'stakeholders' on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir – the Union of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

"This is a principle which is the bedrock of our bilateral relations. This was reaffirmed in the Lahore Declaration of 1999 between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Vajpayee".

Earlier, Basit told foreign journalists here "We strongly believe that our interaction (with Kashmiri separatists) is helpful to the process itself. It is helpful to find peaceful solution to the problem. It is important to engage with all stakeholders. So that is the bottomline for us."

"We need to engage with all stakeholders. It is not a question of either, or as far as we are concerned. We are engaging with India to find peaceful ways," Basit said while reacting to India's stand that Pakistan should either choose dialogue with separatists or Indian government.

India had called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries slated for August 25, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.

Asked why did India permit meetings between Pakistan and the Hurriyat in the past, the MEA Spokesperson said,"Pakistan assured us, at the highest level, that they were committed to a peaceful dialogue on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and would not allow Pakistan or territories under its control to be used for terrorism against us."

"We know now, particularly after the Mumbai terror attacks and the manner in which Pakistan has pursued subsequent investigations and trials, that this assurance had no meaning and that an approach that is different to the one laid down by the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration does not yield results".

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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