Kuala Lumpur, September 23 (SAM): It was “political survival instinct” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the context of the 2019 Indian parliamentary elections, which made the Indian government suddenly call off the Foreign Minister-level India-Pakistan talks which were to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session next week. writes P.K.Balachandran.
India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart S.M.Qureshi were to meet and thrash out a range of issues at their meeting in New York.
But on Friday the spokesman of the Indian Foreign Ministry, Raveesh Kumar, announced that India is opting out of the talks as Pakistan-backed militants had killed three Jammu and Kashmir policemen and that the Pakistan postal department had issued stamps glorifying a Kashmiri separatist Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani.
“Since yesterday’s announcement of a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month, two deeply disturbing developments have taken place. The latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism confirm that Pakistan will not mend it its ways,” Kumar said.
The incident showed the “true face” of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, the spokesman added. The personal attack on Imran made many suspect that the idea was to prevent an early resumption of talks since Imran and his massive following might take it as personal affront.
The reason for not wanting talks with Pakistan any time soon is that talks with India’s sworn enemy Pakistan eight months before the next parliamentary elections
The BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were in the process of wooing the Muslims to make up for the steady erosion of support among the majority Hindus because of the BJP-led governments’ failure on multiple front since it came to power more than four years ago. Modi made a visit to a Bohra Muslim function in Indore and the RSS held a conclave in which Mohan Bhagwat one its leaders tried to convince people that Hindutwa is not a communal ideology and that the RSS and the BJP are not anti-Muslim. To win over the Nehruite secularists he said that the Congress had played a great role during the struggle against British rule and that it had produced great leaders.
A day after agreeing that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj would meet Pakistan’s new foreign minister on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, India cancelled the meeting claiming that the killing of three Jammu and Kashmir policemen and the release of stamps commemorating Burhan Wani showed the “true face” of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York,” said the MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Friday.
He claimed that two major incidents made India change its mind within 24 hours.
“Since yesterday’s announcement of a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month, two deeply disturbing developments have taken place. The latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism confirm that Pakistan will not mend it its ways,” he said.
The Indian spokesperson said that India’s approval for the meeting “was in response to the spirit reflected in the letters from the new prime minister and foreign minister of Pakistan”.
He added that the letter from Imran Khan had spoken of “bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism”.
However, following the “two disturbing developments”, India used unusually harsh words and personally accused the Pakistan prime minster of hypocrisy.
“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 ” said Kumar.
In its first official response, Pakistan lashed out at India.
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
India had announced on Thursday that New Delhi had accepted the proposal of the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and S.M. Qureshi in New York this month.
“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side a meeting between ex ternal affairs minister and Pakistan foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at a mutually convenient date and time,” Raveesh Kumar had said at the weekly briefing.
The US state department stated that it was “terrific news for the Indians and Pakistanis to be able to sit down and have a conversation together”.
Sushma Swaraj had earlier said in May that the “talks and terror” cannot go together, but “talks on terror” could still take place with Pakistan.
In his letter, Imran Khan mentioned Kashmir, but also said that Pakistan “remains ready to discuss terrorism”.
The announcement for the meeting was made on Thursday by India even after details were known about the mutilation of body of a Border Security Force personnel. The opposition Congress had assailed the government on Thursday over the killing of the BSF personnel.
Sources, however, confirmed to The Wire the reference to the killing of security personnel in the Indian statement was not about the BSF personnel, but related to theabduction and shooting of three policemen in Shopian on Friday. There has been an increase in terror attacks targeting policemen and their families in Kashmir in recent months.
Indian and Pakistani media reports stated that Pakistan Post had issued stamps on slain Hizbul Mujahidden terrorist Burhan Wani on July 24. Incidentally, Pakistan went to polls on July 25 under a caretaker government. After winning the elections, Imran Khan was sworn in on August 18.
However, sources told The Wire that media reports about the release of the stamps came out only on Thursday. They insisted that it was only after it was confirmed that the stamps had actually been released by a Pakistani state institution that the development could be taken into cognisance. “It was perhaps designed earlier, but the release only took place now,” said sources.
Official sources stated that the highly charged language used in the MEA statement reflected the Indian assessment that Imran Khan was “personally behind this mess”. Khan has been conciliatory in his public language towards India after taking over as prime minister, but government sources pointed to his verbal attacks on India during the election campaign.
They acknowledged that the strong words meant that there was no scope of discussions between India and Pakistan in the near future. “The door has been closed on talks for the time being,” sources said.