Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday expressed disappointment at India calling off a meeting between him and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York and alleged that “internal pressure” forced New Delhi to make the “unfortunate” move.
India cited the “brutal” killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the release of postal stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani for cancelling the meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.
Qureshi expressed disappointment at the cancellation of the foreign minister-level talks, saying it was “unfortunate.” “It is unfortunate that India has not given a positive response. Indian has once again wasted an opportunity for peace,” Qureshi told the media here.
He said that it was important to sit and talk for the sake of peace and stability in the region.
“The refusal of India shows that Indian government is facing internal pressure,” he said.
“It seems that India is already preparing for its elections due in the country next year,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
He said Pakistan sincerely wants resolution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India through negotiations.
Pakistan has always extended an olive branch to India for the resolution of problems and enhancing bilateral ties in an amicable manner, but New Delhi does not come out of its “internal politics”, state-run Radio Pakistan quoted him as saying.
The minister said Pakistan can only wish India to come to the negotiating table, but “we can neither pressurise anybody nor will accept the same for this purpose.” Qureshi said the world wants connectivity and promote regional trade, but India is creating problems.
He said India’s “stubbornness” is also adversely affecting future of the SAARC countries, the Radio Pakistan report said.
But, Qureshi reiterated that dialogue is the only way to come to the resolution of any issue.
“We said that we want dialogue – but in a dignified manner,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) in a statement remarked that the reasons cited by India for calling off the talks “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,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said in the statement.
He said the alleged killing of a BSF soldier took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting. And when the allegations of Pakistan’s involvement first appeared, Pakistani rangers clearly conveyed to BSF through official channels that the country had nothing to do with it.
He said Pakistani rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body. These facts were known to the Indian authorities and yet “this motivated and malicious propaganda continued”.
“Pakistan…categorically reject these allegations…Our authorities would be prepared to conduct a joint investigation to establish the truth,” Faisal said.
On the issue of the postage stamps, he said they were issued before the July 25 elections and before Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office.
Faisal said that most unfortunate part of Indian statement is the reference to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
“We choose not to further comment beyond saying that these comments are against all norms of civilised discourse and diplomatic communication,” he said.
“We believe by its ill-considered cancellation of the meeting, India has once again wasted a serious opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship and put the region on the path of peace and development,” he added.
Announcing the cancellation of the New York meeting, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in New Delhi that 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.
“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 noted that “two deeply disturbing developments have taken place” since yesterday’s announcement of a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month.
“In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan in New York,” he said.Kumar said talks with Pakistan in such an environment would be “meaningless”.
Former High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit said he was surprised by India’s move as New Delhi should not have agreed for it in the first place due to forthcoming elections but after agreeing for a meeting it was more surprising that it backed out.
Former advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said that it was “unfortunate” that India cancelled the meeting as it would have created an environment for peace.
Former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri said the cancelation reminded him of the Agra summit when everything was ready for joint statement but India backed out at the last minute.