India on Friday called off the upcoming meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi that was to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The development comes after three policemen, who were abducted by suspected militants from their homes in Batagund and Kapren villages of Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Thursday night, were found dead on Friday.
Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said since yesterday’s announcement of meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi, two “deeply disturbing developments” have taken place. “Latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan entities and the recent release of series of 20 postal stamps by Pakistan glorifying terrorists,” Kumar told reporters at a press conference.
He further said: “It is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and true face of new Prime Minister of Pakistan [Imran Khan] has been revealed to world in his first few months in the office.”
He added that under the present circumstances, meeting between the two officials will be “meaningless”.
On Thursday, the ministry announced Swaraj would meet Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. However, the ministry had said this would be is “just a meeting” and did not imply a resumption of dialogue between the two countries.
“Even now after so many years, we don’t have any official communication from Pakistani government that they are willing to consider this matter,” Minister of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “The EAM will therefore raise this issue in her meeting with the Pakistan Foreign Minister on sidelines of UNGA.”
The UN General Assembly began on September 18 in New York and will conclude on September 30.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said the only way forward for the two countries is through “constructive engagement”. “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism,” Khan wrote in a letter dated September 14. “Discussions on trade, people to people contacts, religious tourism, humanitarian issues are also important.”
Earlier on Friday, the United States described the upcoming bilateral meeting as “terrific news”. “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,” said State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert.