India on Thursday formally rejected Pakistan’s proposal to hold exclusive talks on the issue of Kashmir, responding to which Pakistan said that it regretted the latter’s rejection of the invitation.
On August 19, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry invited his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar to visit Islamabad for bi-lateral talks focusing on the Valley. Two days later, India responded to Islamabad’s proposal expressing willingness for talks if the agenda was ‘cross-border terrorism’ in Indian Kashmir. Jaishankar added that India was also ready to talk about Pakistan’s vacation of its “illegal occupation of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir”, referring to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir – the regions Islamabad calls ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ and the ‘Northern Areas’ of Gilgit-Baltistan.
“The letters tell Pakistan that if you want a serious conversation of the kind we’d hoped we were beginning when Pathankot happened, we’re open to that,” a senior official involved in drafting the documents said. “However, if you want to reduce our engagement to scoring propaganda points at home, fine, we can play that game too”.
Since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Kashmir witnessing constant turbulence. While the death toll has climbed to 66, thousands of people remain injured, out of which at least 500 are suffering due to pellet guns.
Indo-Pak relations have gone south ever since the death of Wani, with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calling him a ‘martyr’ and sending off letters to various international fora inviting them to take notice of human rights violations in Kashmir.