JEHANGIR ALI | 24 AUGUST, 2015
MUFTI SAYS CANCELLATION OF TALKS IS A “GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT”
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed: out of his depth?
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government is disappointed over the abrupt end to the bilateral meeting between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan.
Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said it was a matter of "great disappointment" that the NSA-level talks have been cancelled, but he hoped that the two countries will not allow the thaw achieved at the Russian city of Ufa to "go waste".
"I am hopeful that the two neighbours will soon re-engage in a meaningful dialogue and steps taken by New Delhi to remove impediments in normalisation of relations will be reciprocated by Islamabad," the chief minister said.
The talks scheduled in New Delhi between India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, were called off Saturday after India objected to the Hurriyat's meeting with Aziz. Two Hurriyat leaders were held in Delhi on the same day to prevent their meeting with Aziz.
On the crackdown on the Hurriyat leaders, Mufti said the state government is committed to provide space for "healthy debate" across the political spectrum. “Our action speaks for itself. We have never sought to curb freedom of expression, nor curtail civil liberties of citizens, so long as the recognised rules are observed and there is no attempt to cause disruption in peace,” he said.
Mufti said peace and stability in J&K is important for stability and development in the two countries. "Escalation of firing along the Line of Control, coupled with incidents of terrorism, are matters of serious concern to us here, as much as they are in the rest of the country. From this perspective, the last-minute cancellation of the NSA-level meeting is a great disappointment," he said.
Asserting that the Indo-Pak relationship is multi-lateral with issues like trade, travel, diplomatic and political matters, the chief minister said the "all-inclusive participation" of the Hurriyat leaders was "not warranted". Mufti urged Pakistan to engage in a meaningful dialogue to ensure peace in the region.
“We wish the hostilities between the two countries end so that people, who have suffered due to prolonged confrontation, live together as peaceful neighbours,” he said.
The chief minister said Jammu and Kashmir has been a "loser" due to tensions between India and Pakistan. “We will continue to work for fulfilling the wishes and aspirations of the people. We have promised a clean and accountable administration that works to bring in development in the state. J&K and its people cannot afford to bear huge losses resulting from continued instability in the region,” he said.