Govt cancels foreign ministers’ meet, says ‘Imran Khan’s real face revealed’
Some 25 hours after it was announced, India on Friday cancelled the proposed meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistan counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in New York citing the brutal killing of security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by the neighbour “glorifying a terrorist and terrorism”, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
He also launched a frontal attack on Pakistan and its premier, saying “the evil agenda” of the neighbour has been 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”.
“In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York,” the spokesperson said.
The cancellation of the meeting wasn’t received well across the border.
In comments to local media in Islamabad, Qureshi expressed disappointment at India’s announcement. “It is unfortunate that India has not given a positive response. India has once again wasted an opportunity for peace,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying.
“The refusal of India shows the Indian government is facing internal pressure. It seems that India is already preparing for its elections due in the country next year.”
Pakistan’s minister for information and broadcasting Fawad Husain Chaudhry termed the statement of the Indian foreign office “puerile”.
Kumar said the rethink was prompted by “two deeply disturbing developments” since the meeting was announced.
He said 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.”
While the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan happened this week, the stamps were released in July, although news of it reached India only in the past two days. The caption on the postage stamp carrying the photo of Wani read: ‘Burhan Wani (1994-2016) freedom icon’. Other stamps feature people that Pakistan Post claims are “victims of atrocities by Indian troops in Kashmir”.
“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,” Kumar added.
India on Thursday termed the killing of a BSF jawan by Pakistani troops along the International Border as “barbaric” and said the issue would be raised with Islamabad in “an appropriate manner.”
On Friday, Kumar attributed the brutal murder to “Pakistan-based entities”. The jawan was found with his throat slit and body riddled with bullets.
On Thursday, India’s foreign ministry said the decision to agree to Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in New York later this month was taken “in response to the spirit reflected in the letters from the new Prime Minister and foreign minister of Pakistan”.
The Pakistan PM said in that letter that the two countries also need to pay close attention to resolve differences on Siachen and Sir Creek. “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism,” Khan in his letter, which was seen as a pitch for resuming the comprehensive dialogue process, also called for an Indo-Pak composite dialogue process that had been derailed after multiple terror attacks in India.
PM Modi conveyed New Delhi’s commitment to build good neighbourly relations and pursue constructive and meaningful engagement last month, the day the cricketer-turned-politician was sworn in as Pakistan’s 22nd premier.
The Congress, which earlier in the day attacked the government for its decision to meet with Pakistan in New York, welcomed Friday’s decision to call off the meeting. “Better late than never. And sometimes credit should also be given to us,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said in New Delhi.