Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani today criticised the government for stopping Hurriyat leaders from attending Pakistan High Commission’s proposed reception which eventually led to the cancellation of NSA-level talks between both countries.
Jethmalani, who had formed a committee in 2002 to play the role of interlocutor on Kashmir, also took objection to description of Hurriyat leaders as ‘separatists’, saying it reflected “gross misunderstanding” and “ignorance” among the “illiterate people in cabinet, government, parties”.
Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “one of the great disappointments of my life,” he said he should speak up.
He criticised the government’s keenness to prevent Hurriyat leaders from meeting Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz at a reception proposed to be hosted by Pakistan envoy.
Talking to reporters here, he said the Pakistan High Commissioner here represents a sovereign government and “how can you prevent him from meeting people?”
He claimed that such actions bring “tremendous disrepute” to the country.
“They neither know international law, our leaders…I am talking about all leaders, more in the Congress. Modi sahab does not speak at all these days. He is one of the great disappointments of my life. The man should speak,” he said.
“If you don’t know how to speak then at least consult someone. Surely, there are better people and just because you are Prime Minister, you are not the wisest person. But he does not want to learn,” he added.
He questioned under what law the Hurriyat leaders could be prevented from attending the proposed reception at Pakistan High Commission. “It is ridiculous. We are unnecessarily giving an example of bad conduct. We are creating bad precedent of diplomatic behaviour,” he said.
Talking about the Kashmir issue, Jethmalani said, “A lasting and honourable peaceful resolution must and can be found. The solution must be acceptable to political elements and regions of the state.”
He claimed that his Kashmir Committee had ensured that both sides — separatists and government — diluted their extreme positions.
“On their side, extreme position is secession. On this side, the extreme position is repeal of Article 370,” the lawyer said.