India cites killings of its security personnel and release of 20 postage stamps ‘glorifying a terrorist’ as reasons for cancelling talks.
New Delhi: The Modi government, which is facing the Congress-led opposition’s charge of double standards on Pakistan, Friday evening called off foreign minister-level talks in New York next week, citing the “brutal killings” of Indian security personnel and the release of 20 postage stamps “glorifying a terrorist”.
The talks between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were to take place on 26 September, a day before the SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting.
If Swaraj doesn’t want to be seen sitting with Qureshi at all because of India’s anger over the treatment of its own security personnel at the hands of “Pakistan-based entities” — the government press release doesn’t even name the Pakistani army — then she will have to take a call about attending that meeting as well.
By cancelling the talks within 24 hours of confirming them, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has certainly embarrassed itself.
The killing of Indian soldiers took place before the talks were confirmed by the MEA Thursday, while 20 postage stamps on “Kashmiri terrorists” were released even before the Pakistani elections took place in July.
The MEA would not say what new incidents it was referring to. In fact, the MEA tried to justify its decision by invoking what is seen as undiplomatic language against Pakistan.
“Now, it is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office,” the MEA statement said.
The cancellation is viewed as yet another aspect of the Modi government’s flip-flop policy against Pakistan. Over the past four years since it came to power, the BJP-led NDA government has wildly careened in one direction or another — from Modi visiting Lahore for the wedding of then PM Nawaz Sharif’s grand-daughter to the current cancellation after confirmation.
Perhaps the government realised much too late that it was going to celebrate the second anniversary of the “surgical strikes” against Pakistan on 29 September, three days after the two foreign ministers met in New York — perhaps the messaging to the world community would have been contradictory.
However, the latest move makes the Modi government look weak. The Congress can pat itself on the back that it forced the government to back off on its own promise.