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KARACHI: Pakistan on Tuesday rejected an Indian government decision to appoint an interlocutor to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in India-held Kashmir, saying no interaction or dialogue would carry any weight without participation of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership.

On Monday, in a bid to reboot its Kashmir policy, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government named ex-intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor for India-held Kashmir with “complete freedom” to initiate “interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in J&K”.

While the pro-Indian Kashmiri leaders, including current and former chief ministers, are ready to embrace the BJP government decision, Indian news channel Times Now quoted APHC leader Maulvi Abbas Ansari as saying that the issue could not be resolved until all three parties — India, Pakistan and Kashmiris of both sides — sit together.

In reply to a question about the Indian announcement designating Mr Sharma as the central representative to initiate “interaction and dialogue”, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the measure did not appear to be “sincere and realistic”.

He said that the inclusion of Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir was a must to make any dialogue process “meaningful and result-oriented”. “In that context, without the participation of the Hurriyat leadership, no interaction or dialogue would carry any weight or meaning.”

Commenting on the task given to the interlocutor to understand the “legitimate aspirations” of the people of Kashmir, the FO spokesman said that in reality the aspirations of the Kashmiris, i.e. realisation of their right to self-determination, “had been known for 70 years”.

However, he added, if anything, the Indian government’s announcement illustrated the recognition of the futility of use of force and of the indispensability of dialogue.

Mr Zakaria emphasised that the need of the hour was to bring an end to state-sponsored terrorism in India-held Kashmir and to have dialogue for peacefully resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

“This is imperative for ensuring durable and sustainable peace and stability in South Asia. Pakistan hopes that the international community will play its rightful role in facilitating such an outcome,” the spokesman said.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017