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Home / Politics / Policy /  Modi greets Sharif on Pakistan national day, but Hurriyat meet sparks tensions

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday greeted Pakistan on its national day, saying all disputes between the two countries could be resolved through dialogue.

But tension brewed over Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit’s move to meet Kashmiri separatists a day earlier, ahead of hosting them for national day festivities.

“I have written to Pakistan PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif, conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan," Modi tweeted. “It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence."

Modi’s comments come as India and Pakistan take tentative steps towards resuming their stalled peace process.

Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar was in Pakistan earlier this month as part of a four-nation South Asian tour. It came almost eight months after India called off foreign secretary talks with Pakistan after the Pakistani envoy in New Delhi called in Kashmiri separatists for consultations over the talks.

On Monday, however, Basit said India was not against him and his diplomatic staff meeting Kashmiri separatists and hoped that bilateral talks would continue “more seriously and more sincerely". “I don’t think Indian government is objecting," Basit said on Monday, PTI reported.

This came after Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq met Basit in New Delhi on Sunday and said he and other Kashmiri separatist leaders would be attending the Pakistani celebrations.

Basit’s comment drew a sharp response from Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. “The government of India prefers to speak for itself," said Akbaruddin in a statement. “Having repeated it on so many occasions, there should be no scope for misunderstanding or misrepresenting India’s position on the role of the so-called Hurriyat."

“Let me reiterate. There are only two parties and there is no place for a third party in resolution of India-Pakistan issues. The only way forward to proceed on all outstanding issues is a peaceful bilateral dialogue within the framework of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration," he added.

On Monday, junior foreign minister V.K. Singh attended Pakistan’s national day celebrations on behalf of the government of india. Speaking on the occasion, Basit said he was particularly indebted to Singh for having graced the occasion.

“Pakistan and India are neighbours and will continue to be neighbours. We owe it to our future generations not to leave a legacy of conflict," said Basit.

The Kashmiri separatists, who attended celebrations included Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

“India had committed to the Kashmiri people that Indian troops will be withdrawn and that the Kashmiri people will be allowed to decide their destiny and future," Geelani said when asked about India’s view that the Kashmir problem should be discussed by India and Pakistan bilaterally. “There have been so many rounds of India-Pakistan bilateral talks but there has been no solution."

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