By Elton Gomes
Pakistan recently said that it is “deeply disappointed” with India’s decision to cancel talks between Foreign Ministers of both nations. Islamabad issued a statement in this regard, and said that the reasons cited by New Delhi are “entirely unconvincing”. Pakistan denied its military’s role in the recent killing of an Indian Border Security Force (BSF) jawan.
The Indian government Friday cancelled the meeting, stating that “the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed” and that the “true face” of Prime Minister Imran Khan has now been “revealed to the world”. “The true face of Imran Khan has been exposed in his first few months in office,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, adding that a dialogue under such circumstances stands “meaningless”, NDTV reported.
“The reasons cited by the Indian side for the decision to cancel the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, within 24 hours of its public confirmation, are entirely unconvincing. The so-called “disturbing developments” alluded to in the Indian statement predated the Indian agreement to hold the bilateral meeting in New York,” the statement released by the Pakistan government said, Zee News reported.
The statement further read, “Pakistan Rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body. These facts were known to the Indian authorities and a part of the Indian media also reported that Pakistan had refuted its involvement. Yet, this motivated and malicious propaganda continued. Pakistan takes this opportunity to categorically reject these allegations once again. Our authorities would be prepared to conduct a joint investigation to establish the truth.”
In addition, Pakistan PM Imran Khan also took to Twitter to express disappointment “at the arrogant & negative response by India”
Disappointed at the arrogant & negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 22, 2018
PM Khan writes to Modi, says is ready to restart dialogue
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss whether India and Pakistan could resume the dialogue that has been suspended since 2015. Addressing the prime minister as “Modi Sahab”, Khan suggested that a meeting be held between the foreign ministers of the two countries.
Pakistan “remains ready” to discuss terrorism, the new Pakistan prime minister wrote. Referring to PM Modi’s letter after he took office in August, Khan said that he fully supported Modi’s sentiment that the only way forward for the two nations “lies in constructive engagement”.
Government sources, however, have told NDTV that resumption of dialogue will not happen anytime soon. The sources said, “Talks and terror can’t go together,” NDTV reported.
India, Pakistan foreign ministers agree to meet on UNGA sidelines
On Thursday, India accepted Pakistan’s proposal to hold talks between the Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing annual UN General Assembly session in New York.
“On the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly at a mutually decided date and time,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said, the Hindu reported.
Kumar, however, emphasised that although India has agreed to a meeting, it will stick to its position that talks and terror cannot go together. He said, “This [the upcoming meeting] does not indicate any change as far as our policies on terrorism and cross-border terrorism are concerned.”
He added that the issue of Pakistan facilitating visits by Indian pilgrims to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara could feature during the talks. “The External Affairs Minister will raise this issue at her meeting with the Pakistan Foreign Minister,” Kumar said, as per the Hindu.
Imran Khan and Indo-Pak relations
Relations between India and Pakistan have been on the downside after the Uri attack in 2015. Foreign and defence policies are largely controlled by the military in Pakistan. Civilian leaders have faced an uphill task in having a dialogue with New Delhi as doing so would invite the ire of Pakistan’s powerful military. Analysts are of the opinion that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif incurred the wrath of the military as he advocated better relations with India.
Sharif was vehemently criticised by PM Khan for trying to please India at the expense of Pakistan’s interests. Khan’s anti-India statements led many to believe that India-Pakistan ties could suffer further. But in an apparent about-turn after his poll victory, Khan seems to support peace and dialogue between the two nations. Observers opine that the extent to which Khan can influence Pakistan’s foreign policy depends on what seems acceptable to the nation’s military.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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