India calls off Swaraj-Qureshi meeting
Says Imran Khan's 'true face' exposed
New Delhi, Sep 21: Nearly 24 hours after agreeing to it, the government Friday called off a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
Announcing the cancellation of the meeting, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the incidents “exposed” the “true face” of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan to the world as well as Islamabad’s “evil agenda” behind the proposal for talks.
India yesterday accepted Khan’s request for a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“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,” Kumar said.
He said both the “deeply disturbing” developments took place after yesterday’s announcement by India to accept Pakistan’s proposal for the meeting.
Three policemen were abducted from their homes in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and shot dead in cold blood by the militants Friday.
Following the incident, opposition parties criticised the government and asked it to explain the rationale behind accepting such a meeting when Pakistan-based militant outfits are killing Indian security personnel along the border in J&K.
Kumar said India’s decision to agree to Pakistan’s proposal for the meeting was in response to the spirit reflected in separate letters from Khan and Qureshi.
“The letter from the Prime Minister of Pakistan had spoken of, inter alia, bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism.
“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,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson 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.
The Swaraj-Qureshi meeting would have been the first such high-level engagement between the two sides since suspension of dialogue between the two nations after the Pathankot air base attack in 2016.
Accepting the proposal for the meeting, India had, however, made it clear that it was not resumption of dialogue and the decision doesn’t change the country’s position on cross-border terrorism.
Pertinently, earlier in the day before the cancellation of talks by India, US had termed as a “terrific news” the proposed meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the UNGA, and expressed hope that the conditions will be set for a “good” and “strong” relationship between the two neighbours in the future.
“We saw that (reports of meetings between Indian and Pak leaders). I think that’s a terrific news for the Indians and Pakistanis to be able to sit down and have a conversation together,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference.
Nauert also welcomed the exchange of messages between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan.
“We saw the reports about the positive messages being exchanged between Prime Minister Khan and also Prime Minister Modi. And we hope that the conditions will be set for a good strong relationship, a good strong bilateral relationship in the future,” she said.