New Delhi: The Pakistan High Commission has invited Kashmiri separatist leaders to an Eid Milan event on July 21 at its mission here.
The move to invite the separatists was today defended as "nothing unusual" by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit who said Pakistan will continue extending its "full moral, political and diplomatic" support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for self-determination.
Last year, India cancelled talks between the Foreign Secretaries of both countries after the Pakistani envoy hosted Kashmiri separatist leaders before the dialogue.
Earlier, the High Commission had scheduled the dinner for July 4 but later it was postponed to July 21. Pakistani officials maintained that it was rescheduled due to some deaths in Karachi but it was seen here by many as an attempt to avoid any bitterness ahead of the talks between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Russian city of Ufa on Friday last.
When asked about the invite to the separatist leaders, Basit said, "Nothing unusual about our invite to Hurriyat leaders. The hype being created by some is unfortunate, to put it mildly."
"Pakistan will continue extending its full moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for self-determination as provided for in UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he added.
In August last year, India had called off talks between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries, strongly objecting to consultations Basit had with the Kashmiri separatist leaders.
Modi and Sharif during their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Ufa agreed to revive the stalled dialogue process and discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial (in Pakistan), including additional information like providing voice samples.
However, in a turnaround, Pakistan today asked for "more evidence and information" from India on the Mumbai attack case and asserted that talks cannot take place without Kashmir being on the agenda.
Going back to its oft-repeated stand, Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz made it clear "no dialogue will take place with India unless Kashmir issue is included in the agenda."