ISLAMABAD: Abrupt Indian cancellation of meeting between foreign ministers of Pakistan and India on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27 has dazed all and sundry and raised questions over New Delhi’s knee jerk decision making.
One day India announced the New York session and on the following day called it off, citing inane reasons that reflected its venom against Islamabad. What transpired in just twenty-four hours is unexplained except the hardliners would have the final say in changing the decision.
The immediate casualty of the latest spat is the apparent environment that some believed has created hopes that the stalled dialogue process may be resumed between the two countries. Instead, the hostility and bitterness has intensified, and India is to get the blame as it took the lead in kick-starting fresh round of belligerence by using abusive language in the ministry of external affairs’ statement.
Noted international affairs expert Senator Mushahid Hussain tweeted: India has no ‘Pakistan policy’, only confusion, reflecting knee jerk reactions based on animus! More likely, Modi’s India suffers from a ‘Mahmud of Ghazni’ complex as the spectre of Somnath haunts him & the Hindutva crowd, who, despite India’s big size, remain fearful & insecure!
In another post, the senator wrote: Here we go again! Modi's India can't resist being petty, when it comes to Pakistan: this time Delhi's pretext for calling off talks is an old stamp honouring Kashmiri freedom-fighter Burhan Wani, earlier cricketer Sidhu was dubbed a 'traitor' for praising Pakistani hospitality!
The atmosphere has turned toxic once again, and some who thought a modicum of bonhomie is apparently creeping in were thoroughly mistaken as they ignored the Indian mindset. The Indian statement made a highly condemnable attack on Prime Minister Imran Khan, which unambiguously exposed its deep contempt towards him as well.
The premier aptly responded to it when he tweeted without naming his Indian counterpart: Disappointed at the arrogant & negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.
The Indian decision coupled with its harshly worded statement and Imran Khan’s response have for the time being shut out any prospects of a new opening in the near future. Those who fallaciously thought of a fresh beginning are disappointed.
While looking at the Indian statement, it becomes clear that both the reasons given for cancellation of the bilateral meeting were illogical, untenable and unsound. One related to the Pakistan post stamps that highlighted the gross and systematic human rights violations in the occupied Kashmir, which were also extensively documented in a comprehensive report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as late as June 2018.
It is a matter of record that the stamps were issued before the July 25 general polls and obviously prior to Imran Khan’s election as the prime minister. It is the new premier who has taken the initiative for resumption of talks with India, which New Delhi has spurned.
The second reason mentioned in the statement is the killing of an Indian Border Security Force soldier. But it is also a fact that he was killed two days before New Delhi agreed to the foreign ministers’ meeting.
These two “deeply disturbing developments”, as the statement described them, did not occur to the Indian mind when it announced the New York meeting. New Delhi was certainly aware of them, but it called off the session as an afterthought as the hawks prevailed, forcing the government to take U-turn.
It was India that released the letter written by Imran Khan to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in response to his communication, while announcing the foreign ministers’ session. New Delhi kept insisting that it was Pakistan’s desire to revive the peace dialogue. By doing so, it gave the impression as if it was only Pakistan’s desire to have talks while New Delhi was not pushed.
After winning the parliamentary polls and before taking oath as the prime minister, Imran Khan had announced his desire to resolve all issues including the Kashmir dispute with India through negotiations.
While India is clearly at fault in keeping normalisation away from South Asia, the present Pakistani government may also have to review its policy that it, even in its first month, demonstrated towards India. There is no need of any extraordinary keenness for talks with New Delhi given Indian bullying and bellicose approach. Much care and caution is called for when it comes to dealing with India as the relations are too complex and complicated to find out any quick fixes.
The United States had appreciated Imran Khan’s peace overtures, exhibiting that Washington wants Pakistan and India to resume the dialogue process. Now, it is clear to the US that Islamabad has made efforts while New Delhi has sabotaged them.
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