Pakistan envoy, separatists confer despite India's protests

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit has kept his date with Kashmiri separatists after India cancelled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan. Although some people were seen protesting against Geelani outside the Pakistan high commission, the Delhi Police detained some protesters in order to control the mob.

The Pakistan envoy met both the hardline faction and the moderates among the Hurriyat Conference, an amalgam of diverse interested groups. Despite India's tough stand, the separatist leaders and Basit decided to go ahead with their scheduled meeting.

Earlier in the day, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani termed the Centre's decision of cancelling the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks as unfortunate.

Talking to the media after meeting the Pakistan envoy, Geelani said Kashmir is an international issue and that peace cannot return to the Valley until India and Pakistan resolved it amicably.

He said the Narendra Modi government reacted in a childish manner and the decision doesn't hold importance.

''We have been visiting the Pakistani embassy regularly to hold talks. The decision to cancel foreign secretary-level talks is undemocratic,'' Geelani said.

Besides Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF leader Mohammad Yasin Malik also met Basit in the national capital today.

Speaking to the media, Malik ridiculed Prime Minister Modi and said that the PM had said he will follow in the footsteps of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but it seems the present government does not want to hold dialogue with Pakistan.

Commenting on the issue of return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, the JKLF leader asserted, ''No one is opposed to the idea; they have as much right to live in the Valley as I do.''

Earlier, a spokesman of the moderate Hurriyat Conference confirmed Mirwaiz's meet with Basit and said that it was unfortunate that the centre had cancelled the talks with Pakistan.

Pakistan has described India's decision as a "setback" to its efforts to promote good neighbourly relations.