NEW DELHI :
India on Wednesday summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner Sohail Mehmood to register New Delhi’s strong protest over Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi telephoning Hurriyat separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq earlier this week.
“Foreign Secretary ( Vijay Gokhale) conveyed the Government of India’s condemnation in the strongest terms of this latest brazen attempt by Pakistan to subvert India’s unity and to violate our sovereignty and territorial integrity, by none other than the Pakistan Foreign Minister," an Indian foreign ministry statement said.
Gokhale “conveyed that this deplorable act has violated all norms for the conduct of international relations even by Pakistan’s own standards," the statement said.
India’s move comes after news reports of Qureshi speaking to Farooq to brief him about the steps taken by Islamabad to highlight the alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by India in Kashmir.
Though Indian and Pakistani foreign offices routinely summon each other’s diplomats to register protests, the summoning of the high commissioner is rather rare and in this case underlines the seriousness with which India views the matter of Qureshi placing a telephone call to Farooq.
The Hurriyat is an umbrella group that comprises of parties that are seeking Kashmir’s independence or its secession and integration with Pakistan. The Pakistani high commission in New Delhi generally plays host to Hurriyat leaders on 23 March which is celebrated as the Pakistan National Day. The day commemorates the passage of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 seeking the creation of a separate state of Pakistan before the emergence of India and Pakistan as two separate nations in 1947 at the end of British colonial rule.
Pakistani diplomats also routinely arrange meetings between Hurriyat leaders and their visiting officials or leaders — something India has frowned upon. In August 2015, the insistence of Sartaj Aziz, then foreign and Security Advisor to former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to hold a meeting with Hurriyat leaders before meeting Indian national security advisor Ajit Doval had proved to a major hurdle in attempts to restart peace talks. The peace talks were later called off.
“ The Pakistan Foreign Minister’s actions are tantamount to direct interference in the internal affairs of its neighbour. The Foreign Secretary underscored that by this action Pakistan has confirmed yet again that it officially abets and encourages individuals associated with terrorism and anti-India activities. It has exposed to the entire international community Pakistan’s duplicity in professing their desire for normal relations with India on the one hand, while openly inciting anti-India activities on the other," the Indian statement said.
“The Pakistan High Commissioner was categorically informed by the Foreign Secretary that the Government of India expects Pakistan to desist forthwith from such actions. He was cautioned that persistence of such behaviour by Pakistan will have implications," the statement said.
India’s position that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir “has been, is and shall remain the integral part of India, and that Pakistan has no locus standi in any matters related to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, has been made clear again to the High Commissioner of Pakistan," it added.