Amidst controversy, Gen VK Singh attends Pak National Day reception
New Delhi, March 23: Minister of State for External Affairs Minister V K Singh today represented the government at the Pakistan National Day reception at the High Commission here amidst the controversy sparked by Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit's comments that India was not against his interactions with Kashmiri separatist leaders.
Singh, former Army Chief, attended the celebrations, where several Kashmiri separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yaseen Malik were also present.
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar also present. The minister stayed for 15 minutes at the reception which was held on a day India and Pakistan sparred over Hurriyat leaders' confabulations with Basit, with New Delhi making it clear that there was no role for a third party.
Basit, who has held meetings with Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and other separatist leaders and also invited them to the Pakistan National Day celebrations here, said that India was not against these interactions.
"I don't think Indian government is objecting. I would rather suggest to my media friends not to make an issue out of a non-issue," Basit said. However, India hit out, saying "the Government of India prefers to speak for itself".
Having repeated it on so many occasions there should be no scope for misunderstanding or misrepresenting India's position on the role of the so called Hurriyat.
"Let me reiterate there are only two parties and there is no place for a third party in resolution of India-Pakistan issues," Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said.
India had called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan last year after Basit held consultations with Hurriyat leaders on the eve of the official talks.