India axes talks with Pakistan; ‘unfortunate’ says Pakistan

New Delhi/Islamabad: Blaming Pakistan for the killing of security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir and accusing it of glorifying terrorism, India on Friday called off talks between the two foreign ministers in New York in a move termed by Pakistan as “unfortunate” and “taken under internal pressure”.

External Affairs Ministers Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were set to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next week, marking the first thaw in bilateral ties that have steadily deteriorated.

The Indian government said in a strongly-worded statement that since the announcement of the talks on Thursday, two “deeply disturbing” developments had taken place that led to Islamabad’s “evil agenda” being exposed.

In the first such incident earlier in the day, terrorists abducted and gunned down three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir, marking a sharp escalation in militancy in the state which India says is backed by Pakistan.

Also, Islamabad on Thursday had issued postage stamps in memory of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen leader who was shot dead by Indian security forces in July 2016, sparking widespread street protests.

“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 confirmed that Pakistan will not mend its ways,” said the statement by the Indian External Affairs Ministry.

“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,” Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

“Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless.

“In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York,” he said.

Calling the development “unfortunate”, Qureshi said: “We had already told India that if they take one step towards us, we will take two. However, it seems that they faltered after taking just one step.”

He told Dawn online the world should see that “Pakistan has held a positive outlook towards the situation while India’s attitude has not been so forthcoming”.

The Pakistani minister said it appeared as if New Delhi was facing internal pressure. “If the meeting is not to be considered as part of talks between the two countries, then what is the purpose of it?

“I would only say that there was a chance, which was missed. Talks will only be held in a dignified and respectable manner… If they are not willing for it, then we also won’t act in haste.”

Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said extremist groups in India were sabotaging talks between the two countries and that “entire world was watching Pakistan stand for peace and dialogue.

“It appears as if the Indian cabinet lacks consensus on the matter… If you won’t talk, then issues will not be resolved,” he was cited as saying by Geo News.

A day earlier, India had announced that it had accepted Pakistan’s request for a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Qureshi.

New Delhi said that it agreed for the New York meeting in response to the spirit reflected in the letters from Khan as well as Qureshi.

“The letter had spoken of, inter alia, bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism.” (IANS)

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