Barely 24 hours after India agreed to talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, the government has reversed its position, saying a meeting between top diplomats in the current environment would be futile.
A statement released on Friday by the Indian foreign ministry said the cancellation of talks followed 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”.
Pakistan recently issued postage stamps of Burhan Wani, a young Kashmiri rebel commander killed by Indian troops in July 2016, whose death sparked a wave of violent protests in India-administered Kashmir.
“It is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of [the] new Prime Minister of Pakistan has been revealed to [the] world in his first few months in the office,” the statement said.
While the Indian foreign ministry’s statement did not specify which killings it was referring to, a border guard in India-administered Kashmir was killed earlier this week, with New Delhi accusing Pakistani forces of mutilating his corpse.
Pakistani official Fawad Hussain denounced India’s announcement.
It seems that the Indian govt is divided on the issue of negotiations — have never seen such a puerile statement given by any Foreign Office. The world is watching: Pakistan stands for peace while Indian policies are being guided by extremist ideologies
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 21, 2018
The cancellation of talks, the first planned high-level meeting between India and Pakistan since 2015, also came hours after three policemen were killed by rebels in Kashmir’s Shopian region early on Friday.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming rebel groups in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both. The two countries have fought three wars over the territory so far.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan requested the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan to hold a bilateral meeting in New York City.
India agreed and a meeting between Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi was confirmed on Thursday.
India’s foreign ministry, however, said the New York meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi did not represent a shift in New Delhi’s relations with Islamabad.
“This does not indicate any change in our policy on cross-border terrorism,” said ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar in New Delhi on Thursday.
India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which is gearing up for elections early next year, has long advocated a tough stance towards Pakistan.
India insists Pakistan act against anti-India rebel groups that operate from its soil before it can resume peace talks to resolve long-standing differences over Kashmir and other disputes.
Pakistan denies aiding and abetting attacks in India and says it is fighting armed groups for its own security.