India called off a scheduled bilateral meeting with Pakistan because of its political and electoral compulsions, Islamabad has claimed, PTI reported on Saturday.

“Why are they reluctant?” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quoted as asking. “Simply politics, elections...they are scared of the electorate.”

On September 20, India had agreed for a meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, but called it off the next day, citing “deeply disturbing developments”. Pakistan had expressed disappointment at India’s decision.

“They have swung the pendulum to such an extreme, now they’re finding it difficult to bring it back,” Qureshi said at an event in New York on Friday. “And [with] the elections round the corner, they [the Indian government] felt that it could boomerang.”

Both the foreign ministers are in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. On Thursday, Swaraj left a meeting of the member nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation mid-way. She did not meet Qureshi.

Swaraj appeared under immense strain at the meeting, claimed Qureshi. “I wish we were going to smile at each other,” he said. “When she left, she wasn’t even willing to engage with the media... I could see the pressure, I could see the political [pressure] on her.”

It was sad to see how “a regional forum [SAARC] had become hostage” to the needs of one nation, said Qureshi, adding, “So, politics, nothing else, politics, domestic politics [made India reluctant to talk].”

Last week, the foreign minister said that Pakistan would not stop promoting peace in the region despite India’s reluctance to hold talks.

Qureshi also asked the United States to intervene in the India-Pakistan discussions. “If the US wants us to help, and we want to help in our own interest because we want peace in the region, then they [the US] have to tell the new strategic partner [India] to give us ease on the eastern side so that we can concentrate on areas of mutual interest,” he said.