Veteran Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has refused to attend an Eid Milan party at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi in protest against Pakistan for ‘ignoring the Kashmir cause’.
“As a symbolic protest, I have decided not to attend the Eid Milan function at Pakistan’s High Commission in Delhi to which I have been invited,” said the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman in a statement issued in Srinagar on Tuesday, according to the IANS news agency.
Geelani said the joint statement issued by Indian and Pakistani prime ministers after their recent meet-up in the Russian city of Ufa had failed to mention the Kashmir issue. “The failure of the joint statement to make a special mention of the Kashmir problem indicates callousness towards a human problem that concerns the lives and future of 13 million people living in Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir,” he stated.
The Pakistan High Commission in India had invited the Hurriyat leaders and other politicians of the disputed territory to the function scheduled for July 21. The leaders had earlier been invited to an Iftar party also, but it was cancelled because of over 1,300 heatstroke-related deaths in Karachi.
According to The Times of India, the Hurriyat leader told IANS over the phone from Srinagar that he would register his protest by not attending the Eid Milan function. “The Kashmir issue is a question of life and death for us. Nobody can take us for granted. And I will not attend the Eid Milan in New Delhi to register a symbolic protest,” he said. “We reject being a part of any of their [Pakistan’s] celebration.”
Sources in the APHC said no member from the party would attend the event. They also alleged the earlier Iftar party was cancelled to create a favourable atmosphere for the meeting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Russia.
“It is unfortunate that Kashmir issue was neglected in the [Ufa] meeting. The main issue between the two countries is Kashmir and they chose not to talk about its resolution,” an aide of Geelani told the news agency.
The Modi-led government had called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August last year over a similar meeting of Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit with Kashmiri leaders on the eve of the dialogue.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.