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Pak envoy justifies meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders

Abdul Basit

Abdul BasitNew Delhi: A defiant Pakistan High Commissioner today justified his meetings with Kashmiri separatists here notwithstanding India’s protestation, asserting that engagement with all stakeholders have been the “bottomline” of Islamabad’s efforts to find a solution to the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said calling off the August 25 talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries by India was a “setback” but noted that it should not discourage the two neighbours from resolving the Kashmir issue.

Addressing a press conference at Foreign Correspondents’ club here, Basit defended his meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders in the last two days and said he did not breach any protocol by holding talks with them.

“This has been a long-standing practice. We have been meeting the Kashmiri leaders…It is important to engage with all the stakeholders to find a peaceful solution to the issue,” he said.

India had called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.

Noting that Pakistan wants to improve ties with India, he said there was no need to be “pessimistic” about cancellation of the Foreign Secretary-level talks and that both the countries should move forward. “So the setback should not disappoint us, discourage us to finding ways and means as to how to take the process forward in line with our leadership’s visions on both sides of the border.

So we will try our maximum to see as to how this process can be taken forward,” Basit said.

He said Pakistan understands that it was a “complex situation” but added it was positive and will not allow distractions to come in the way of finding solutions to the problems.

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