Pakistan invites separatist leader Masarat Alam for National Day celebrations in New Delhi
New Delhi, March 23: Pakistan has invited separatist leader Masarat Alam to attend its National Day celebrations to be held in New Delhi on Monday.
According to media reports, Alam has however refused to attend the celebrations.
In a symbolic show of strength in the war against Taliban terrorists, Pakistan is holding its first Republic Day parade in seven years on Monday. The Pakistan Day parade in the capital of Islamabad had been cancelled since 2008 amid fears of a Taliban attack.
Alam's release created a huge uproar across the country last month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP faced criticism from the Opposition in the Parliament over the issue. 44-year-old Alam was released from Baramulla jail on Saturday, March 7.
Meanwhile, ahead of attending the Pakistan Day function, Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday, March 22 met the Pakistani envoy here for a one-on-one where they discussed the "new start" in India-Pakistan ties and Jammu and Kashmir.
"The meeting was good, we talked about the new start in ties between both countries," said the Mirwaiz, chief of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, after meeting with High Commissioner Abdul Basit at his residence here in the evening.
The Mirwaiz, who is leading a team of seven members to participate in the Pakistan Day celebrations on Monday, said all stakeholders should be involved in trying to find a solution to the issues between both countries.
"The talks between India and Pakistan have just started and the focus should be to lend strength to the talks. We (I and Basit) discussed the fact that the Indian prime minister would be going to Pakistan for the SAARC summit in the coming year; and I think that is an opportunity to build on certain things.
"And if the two prime ministers (Narendra Modi and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif) at the political level can start the ball rolling, then that will be the key," he said.
The Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat believes that Kashmir is a political problem. "We are ready to support that process, both vis-a-vis New Delhi and through Islamabad," he said.
The Pakistani envoy had earlier met hardline leader Syed Ali Geelani and updated him about the talks between Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in Islamabad earlier this month.
On Friday, the India had rebuffed Pakistan's attempts to involve the separatist Hurriyat in talks on Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it has always stood for resolving all bilateral issues, including on Kashmir, peacefully and there would never be "any scope" for a third party coming in.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, addressing a media briefing, had said: "Does India permit or countenance involvement of third parties other than the two governments in issues relating to India and Pakistan? "The answer is: We have stated repeatedly that our position has been that we are committed to resolving all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir bilaterally with Pakistan, through a peaceful bilateral dialogue, and that there was never and will be never any scope whatsoever for involvement of any third party."
Last year, India had called off the foreign secretary level talks set for August 25 after the Pakistani High Commissioner met Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks, ignoring India's request not to do so.
(With agency inputs)