India cancels rare Pakistan meeting over 'brutal killings'
India has cancelled a rare meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart just a day after announcing the talks would take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Indian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that the meeting was called off after what it described as the “latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of twenty postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism.”
The ministry did not provide further details about the killings, but earlier this week an Indian border guard was reportedly killed and his body mutilated in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Three policemen were also found dead on Friday after being abducted in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Additionally, Pakistan recently issued postage stamps of Burhan Wani, a popular pro-independence fighter who was shot dead by the Indian army in July 2016, whose death sparked a wave of violent protests in India.
India’s ministry added in the statement that the recent actions had revealed Pakistan’s “evil agenda” and the “true face” of the country’s newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The meeting in New York between Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi had been confirmed on Thursday.
The meeting – described by the Indian media as the first in nearly three years – came after Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and called for a resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed foes.
“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 in response to the spirit reflected in the letters from the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan,” the Friday's Indian statement said.
“The letter from the Prime Minister of Pakistan had spoken of ... bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism,” it added.
“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,” the statement said. “Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless.”
'Surprised and disappointed'
The Pakistani Foreign Minister told the country’s ARY TV channel that he was “surprised and disappointed” at the news of the cancellation.
“We had given a positive signal and India too had hinted about negotiations,” Qureshi said. “India has once again shown that it cares more about its own politics than regional peace and stability.”
Asked whether Islamabad would again approach New Delhi for negotiations, he replied, “We said that we want dialogue but in a dignified way.”
“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,” Pakistan's English-language Dawn newspaper quoted Qureshi as saying. “Pakistan has held a positive outlook towards the situation, while India’s attitude has not been so forthcoming.”
Tensions are high in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where the Muslim-majority population stages regular protests against the Indian rule, demanding autonomy from New Delhi or a merger with Pakistan.