Invitation to separatists to attend Pak Day celebrations a non-issue: Abdul Basit

Kolkata, March 18: Describing Kashmiris as stakeholders in the Kashmir issue, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Wednesday dismissed as a "non-issue" his invitation to Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Pakistan Day celebrations in New Delhi.

"We have been inviting our Indian and Kashmiri friends to the Pakistan Day (March 23) reception for long and this is nothing new or unprecedented. I don't find anything wrong about it, it has been going on for decades now," Basit said here at an MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised event.

Pak High Commissioner

Basit, who recently held talks with Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, has invited Mirwaiz Umar Farooq along with other senior Hurriyat leaders.

Enraged over a similar meeting between the Pakistani envoy and the Kashmiri separatists, India had called off the scheduled foreign secretary-level talks in August 2014, saying Pakistan could either talk to India or the separatists.

Asserting that he came to know about India's reservation over the issue only last August, Basit said the invitation should not be perceived as a "provocation".

"Our position has been explained to our Indian friends and our Indian interlocutors. I would urge that this invitation should not be perceived as a provocation. From our point of view, Kashmiris are stakeholders on the issue," said Basit.

"Only in August (last), we came to know that the Indian government doesn't want us to talk to the separatists. But our stand on that matter is different. We want to approach with a positive attitude towards resolving the issues (with India) and don't intend to do anything that may jeopardize that," said Basit.

"Let's not make an issue out of a non-issue. Let's focus on substantive issue and focus on resolving issues."

"If we continue to get entangled in trivial matters like this, it would be difficult to resolve the issues that exist between India and Pakistan," he added.


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