NEW DELHI, Aug 19 - The first-ever Indo-Pak NSA-level talks appear to be on schedule for next week despite Pakistan High Commission�s decision to hold consultations with Kashmiri separatist leaders, a move that has not gone down well with the Indian government.
Injecting yet another irritant ahead of the talks, Pakistan invited hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderate Hurriyat leader Umar Farooq and other separatists with their National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz on August 23, a day he is scheduled to arrive here to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on terror.
The Pakistani action comes after persistent ceasefire violations as well as two terror attacks in recent weeks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur which many observers see as Pakistan Army�s opposition to any discussions with India.
Though the government refrained from making any official comment on the invitation to Hurriyat leaders, sources said the situation was being monitored and India will �respond appropriately�. �Let�s see what happens. We are monitoring the situation. The government will respond appropriately,� they said.
Asserting that there are some sections in the Pakistan establishment who want to �scuttle� the Indo-Pak talks and are ratcheting up anti-India activities, thereby pushing India to call off NSA-level talks.
�The invitation should be seen as latest provocative move in that direction,� the sources said, and added that �We believe that terror and talks cannot go on together but we are not shy of talks on terror.�
However, the Pakistan High Commission justified its invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders, saying such meetings are not �unprecedented�.
�We have been meeting and talking to them (Kashmiri leaders). There is nothing unprecedented about it. I don�t understand why there is so much hype,� Manzoor Ali Memon, Counsellor (Press) in Pakistan High Commission said. � PTI