In a move that can be seen as a major policy shift towards Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre said that the Hurriyat leaders in J&K are free to meet Pakistan representatives. Minster of States for External Affairs VK Singh said that there is no bar on their meeting with Pak representatives.
“Since the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Union of India and these so-called Kashmiri ‘leaders’ are Indian citizens, there is no bar on their meetings with representatives of any country in India,” he told Parliament last week, in reply to a question as reported by The Times of India.
However, he made it clear that such talks should not affect India-Pak bilateral ties. “India has consistently maintained that there is no role for a third party in the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan as per the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. India’s displeasure at Pakistan’s attempts to interfere in India’s internal affairs has been repeatedly conveyed to Pakistan,” he said.
According to a report published in KASHMIR Life on Sunday, the statement came as an answer from the minister of state for external affairs on April 28, 2016, for a question about the meeting between Shah and Basit and their presence in Pakistan Day celebrations.
Meantime, the new policy is likely to make vibes in India and behind the border as well, since the statement came nearly after two years the country banned Hurriyat leaders from meeting Pakistan officials. Earlier, India had cancelled a scheduled bilateral talk with Pakistan in August 2014 for the same reason.