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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hope for peace talks tumble as India calls off UNGA meeting

News Analysis |

The Indian government has rescinded its decision to accept Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of UNGA in New York later this month. According to Indian media reports, the Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has declared “There would be no meeting between the foreign ministers any longer”.

Ravish Kumar said that the decision to agree to Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in New York later this month was in response to “the spirit reflected in the letters from Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi”.

On Thursday, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had confirmed that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would meet her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in the last week of September.

Indian sources have stated that the decision was repealed when “Imran Khan’s true face was revealed”. They alluded to the recent postage stamp collection which highlighted the Kashmiri freedom struggle alleging that “it glorified terrorism”. The killing of three policemen Indian Occupied Kashmir by alleged rebels was also cited. However many in India have questioned the decision.

Read more: Is CPEC detrimental for Indo-Pak ties?

Manish Tewari, the Indian National Congress spokesperson grilled the BJP government in several tweets. He specifically tweeted the current Indian government approach to Pakistan as an example of “Disastrous Diplomacy”.

The decision has also been criticized by observers

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meanwhile expressed his dismay over Indian government’s decision of calling off next week’s meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries.

Reacting to the cancellation of meeting by India, he said that New Delhi has once again demonstrated hesitation, adding that he was shocked and surprised with the development.

Qureshi went on to say that Indian officials lack mental harmony and it looks like preparations for the forthcoming general elections are underway. The foreign minister said that a positive message was sent to India through letter and talks are the only way to resolve all outstanding issues. Pakistan wants peace in the region, he added.

Forthcoming Indian elections in 2019 have been cited by many as an obstacle for the initiation of peace talks between the two nations. According to sources, the PTI government’s initial overtures were welcomed by New Delhi who asked for time until after the 2019 elections. The stated was that the political atmosphere before the elections would deter any party from engaging in meaningful dialogue in order to not appear “weak on Pakistan”.

Already when the talks were set to take place, the BJP government was eager to portray the meeting as a meaningful dialogue and there had been no shift in the hardline Indian stance.

A glimpse of this anti Pakistan politics could be seen in the recent statement of the Indian Defence Minister acknowledging the beheadings of Pakistani soldiers at the border. Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday had boasted that the heads of Pakistani soldiers are being cut-off, however, are not being displayed. She made this remarks in answer to a TV shows question that the BJP government did not appear that hard on Pakistan.

Citing a previous BJP claim the host had asked “During the election campaign, you people had said that if they cut two heads, we will cut ten heads. But ten heads are not really being cut now”

Nirmala responded by saying “No. I can only say thiswe are also cutting heads, but are not displaying them” which was met with applause from the studio audience.

Many observers expressed shock at her declaration as such action is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention and customary norms of international law on armed conflict. While there is evidence that such actions have taken place, their illegality is the reason the government has always maintained strict silence over them.

Earlier, India rejected Prime Minister Imran Khan ‘s proposal of holding the SAARC summit in Islamabad.

Analysts cite that the use of Pakistan as a foreign demon by the Indian political class has compounded difficulties in resolving the Kashmir issue. Indian politicians use Pakistan bashing as a tool to divert the public attention as well as hide atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir. It seems that Indian politics has again gotten in the way of a meaningful dialogue that could have helped usher in peace between the two nuclear nations.