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Pakistan defends foreign minister’s call to Kashmir separatist, says India’s censure a travesty

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Pakistan’s response comes after its high commissioner was summoned late Wednesday by India over the phone call, which it termed ‘deplorable’.

New Delhi: India summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood late Wednesday night over a sudden call placed by the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Tuesday for discussions on Kashmir.

However, despite New Delhi’s censure, Islamabad has justified its engagement with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader, with the Pakistan Foreign Ministry saying it “categorically rejects the objections raised by India”.

“We would like to reiterate that Kashmir is an outstanding dispute between India and Pakistan, and acknowledged as such through UN Security Council resolutions as well as numerous Pakistan-India documents including the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Kashmir issue remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council,” it added.

Calling India’s objections an “outright travesty”, Pakistan said it was “committed to extending its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of occupied (sic) Jammu & Kashmir”.

“The leadership in Pakistan has always been communicating with the Kashmiri leadership. This is not anything new,” it added.

Qureshi is said to have called the separatist to apprise him of the efforts being made by the Pakistan government to address alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. This was the first such public attempt by the Imran Khan government to directly reach out to Hurriyat leaders.

Also read: Kashmir conflict: Making of child soldiers like Burhan Wani in the time of social media

Summoned to South Block

The reaction came after Pakistan High Commissioner Mahmood was called by South Block, which houses India’s Ministry of External Affairs, way past normal working hours, at 10.30 pm. Mahmood was summoned by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

“India made it clear that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and Pakistan has no business to interfere in the internal affairs of India,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release issued after the meeting.

According to the statement, Gokhale told the envoy that the phone call to the moderate separatist was “deplorable” and “violated all norms for the conduct of international relations even by Pakistan’s own standards”.

Ever since it assumed office, the Modi government has categorically told Pakistan that it will not engage with Hurriyat leaders when discussing Kashmir.

In 2014, when the then high commissioner of Pakistan Abdul Basit met separatist leaders weeks before the foreign secretaries of both countries were about to meet for a much-expected breakthrough dialogue, the meeting was called off by India.

However, Pakistan has rejected this condition, which has led to a complete stalling of dialogue between the two neighbours.

Also read: Water could become the major flash point between India and Pakistan besides Kashmir

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