Pakistan has expressed disappointment at India’s decision to call off a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called it unfortunate and blamed “internal pressure” in India for the decision. President Arif Alvi said India had “negated” Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “outstanding peace overture...in their usual belligerent manner”.
“It is unfortunate that India has not given a positive response,” Qureshi said, according to PTI. “India has once again wasted an opportunity for peace.”
He said it seems “India has priorities other than dialogue” and that “there is a group in the New Delhi that doesn’t want talks to take place”, reported The Express Tribune. “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.”
According to Radio Pakistan, he also claimed Pakistan has always extended an olive branch to India for the resolution of problems and enhancing bilateral ties amicably, but New Delhi does not come out of its internal politics.
President Arif Alvi wrote on Twitter that it was “sad to see India backing off”, and “mutual reservations could have been placed on the table”. “Kashmiris face only disappointment on International Day of Peace [September 21],” he said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the reasons India had cited for calling off the meeting were “entirely unconvincing”. The “disturbing developments” India referred to allegedly took place before India agreed to hold the meeting, the Foreign Office said. The alleged killing of a Border Security Force personnel took place on Tuesday, and Pakistan has denied any role in it, the government said.
India had also cited the killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the release of postal stamps “glorifying” slain Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani for cancelling the meeting. The stamps were released before Imran Khan became prime minister.
Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said the most unfortunate part of India’s statement was the mention of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “We choose not to further comment beyond saying that these comments are against all norms of civilised discourse and diplomatic communication,” he said.
Announcing the cancellation of the meeting, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had 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.”
On Thursday, India had announced External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would meet Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.