Indian Interior Minister refuses to meet Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad

Indian Interior Minister refuses to meet Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad

NEW DELHI: India’s interior minister will travel to Pakistan for a regional gathering but will not hold bilateral talks at a time when a surge of violence in disputed Kashmir has escalated rivalry between the nuclear-armed neighbours, officials said on Monday.

At least 50 people have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded since protests erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir after security forces killed a separatist militant leader last month.

Burhan Wani , 22, was a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, a separatist militant group whose leader is based in Pakistan. He has been declared a martyr by officials in Islamabad while India has branded him a “terrorist”.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir, which each rules in part but claims in full. The line of control dividing the Himalayan region still broadly runs along the front when the guns fell silent in 1948.

Interior Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Islamabad on Aug. 3 but will not have a separate meeting with the Pakistani host of the meeting of interior ministers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“Pakistan easily finds a reason to start violence in Kashmir and we don’t want to engage with them at this juncture,” a senior interior ministry official in New Delhi said.

The Foreign Ministry in Pakistan could not be reached for comment and the Interior Ministry had no immediate comment.

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