Qureshi’s conversation with the Hurriyat leader reflected “duplicity’’ in Pakistan leadership's approach: Government sources. India has steadfastly maintained that there is no role for any third party in the Kashmir dispute

NEW DELHI: Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s telephonic conversation with separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq evoked a stinging response from India on Tuesday with the government calling it a regressive step which was contrary to the impression Pakistan was trying to create by claiming that it wanted to improve relations with India.

Government sources here said Qureshi’s conversation with the Hurriyat leader, in which the former spoke about Pakistan’s efforts to highlight “grave human rights violations’’ in J&K, reflected “duplicity’’ in Pakistan leadership's approach. 

While the Pakistan PM, Imran Khan, has repeatedly spoken about the need to improve relations with India, the Indian establishment seems to believe that Khan may not fully have the backing of his foreign minister and that Qureshi is acting under the influence of the Pakistan deep state.

India has steadfastly maintained that there is no role for any third party in the Kashmir dispute but the Narendra Modi government, unlike the NDA government under A B Vajpayee, has been much more rigid in its insistence that Pakistan and Hurriyat leaders have no truck on the issue. The government had called off foreign secretary-level talks with Islamabad in August 2014 because of then Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit’s meetings with Hurriyat leaders. This was also the reason why India insisted, when it did agree to resume dialogue with Pakistan in December 2015, that the word bilateral be injected into the new name, comprehensive dialogue, which Islamabad wanted for talks. India finally had its way and it was called comprehensive bilateral dialogue.

“Pakistan has been and continues to foment cross border terrorism in India. Its repeated attempts to incite disharmony and violence in India continue. Media antics of its leadership cannot divert attention from the fact that Pakistan's establishment hands are stained with the blood of innocent Indians, including in J&K and in territory under its illegal occupation,’’ said a source here, while conveying the government’s reaction to Pakistan’s announcement of Qureshi-Mirwaiz conversation.

Government sources further said Pakistan needed to focus on addressing human rights situation within its own territory and promoting and protecting its own citizens, especially from the minority community.

“The persecution and discrimination of different ethnic populations including Pashtuns, Baloch, Ahmediyas, Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan needs to end. The people of India will defeat all nefarious designs aimed at creating disharmony and terrorist violence in India,’’ said a source.

According to a statement issued by Pakistan, Qureshi briefed Mirwaiz on Pakistan’s efforts to highlight the “gross human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir’’. In this context, he mentioned the June 2018 report issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the APPKG report of the UK Parliament. He also emphasised that India should permit the visit of the Commission of Inquiry, as envisaged in both Reports.

“The foreign minister also informed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the upcoming events, being organised in London at the House of Commons and the exhibition being held in London on 4-5 February 2019 respectively. These, again, are efforts to highlight the centrality of Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the grave human rights violations against the Kashmiri people, by India, which are being widely condemned and need to be immediately stopped,’’ said the statement.

Mirwaiz, according to Pakistan, thanked Islamabad and emphasised that the “Indian atrocities shall never be able to suppress the will” of the people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, who will continue to raise their voice against “severe Indian repression and in the face of Indian black laws’’.