Door shut again on talks; two countries trade allegations
The Wire (India) Staff
New Delhi, September 22, 2018
A day after agreeing that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would meet Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the side-lines of United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, India cancelled the meeting claiming that the killing of three Jammu and Kashmir policemen and the release of Stamps commemorating Burhan Wani showed the ‘True Face” of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York,” said the MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Friday (September 21, 2018).
Two major incidents
He claimed that two major incidents made India change its mind within 24 hours.
“Since yesterday’s announcement of a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month, two deeply disturbing developments have taken place. The latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage Stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism confirm that Pakistan will not mend its ways,” he said.
The Indian spokesperson said that India’s approval for the meeting “was in response to the spirit reflected in the letters from the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan.”
India has accused Pakistan’s Prime Minister of ‘hypocrisy.’ (Picture from Pakistan Government Portal)
He added that the letter from Imran Khan had spoken of “bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism.”
Unusually harsh words
However, following the “two disturbing developments,” India used unusually harsh words and personally accused the Pakistan Prime Minster of hypocrisy.
“Now, it is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office. Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless,” Mr Kumar said.
Pakistan lashes out
In its first official response, Pakistan lashed out at India.
It seems that the Indian govt is divided on the issue of negotiations — have never seen such a puerile statement given by any Foreign Office.
The world is watching: Pakistan stands for peace while Indian policies are being guided by extremist ideologies.
-Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 21, 2018
India had announced on Thursday that New Delhi had accepted the proposal of the Pakistan Prime Minister for a meeting between Ms Swaraj and Mr Qureshi in New York this month.
“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between our External Affairs Minister and Pakistan Foreign Minister will take place on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly at a mutually convenient date and time,” Mr Kumar had said at the weekly briefing.
The US State Department stated that it was “terrific news for the Indians and Pakistanis to be able to sit down and have a conversation together.”
Talks and Terror no match
Sushma Swaraj Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Ms Swaraj had said in May that the “talks and terror” cannot go together, but “talks on terror” could still take place with Pakistan.
In his letter, Mr Khan mentioned Kashmir, but also said that Pakistan “remains ready to discuss terrorism.”
The announcement for the meeting was made on Thursday (September 20) by India even after details were known about the mutilation of body of a Border Security Force personnel.
The opposition Congress had assailed the government on over the killing of the BSF personnel.
Sources, however, confirmed to The Wire the reference to the killing of security personnel in the Indian statement was not about the BSF personnel, but related to the abduction and shooting of three policemen in Shopian on Friday.
There has been an increase in terror attacks targeting policemen and their families in Kashmir in recent months.
Burhan Wani Stamps
Indian and Pakistani media reports stated that Pakistan Post had issued Stamps on slain Hizbul Mujahidden terrorist Burhan Wani on July 24.
Incidentally, Pakistan went to polls on July 25 under a Caretaker Government. After winning the elections, Imran Khan was sworn in on August 18.
However, sources told The Wire that media reports about the release of the Stamps came out only on Thursday. They insisted that it was only after it was confirmed that the Stamps had actually been released by a Pakistani state institution that the development could be taken into cognisance.
“It was perhaps designed earlier, but the release only took place now,” sources said.
Official sources stated that the highly charged language used in the MEA statement reflected the Indian assessment that Imran Khan was “personally behind this mess.”
Mr Khan has been conciliatory in his public language towards India after taking over as Prime Minister, but government sources pointed to his verbal attacks on India during the election campaign.
They acknowledged that the strong words meant that there was no scope of discussions between India and Pakistan in the near future.
“The door has been closed on talks for the time being,” sources said.
The above article, which appeared in ‘The Wire,’ (thewire.in) Web Edition on September 21, 2018. has been reproduced here with the permission of Founding Editor Siddharth Varadarajan.