India Pakistan Relations: Instant Disconnect and One Year Hiatus | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

India Pakistan Relations: Instant Disconnect and One Year Hiatus

Published Sep 21, 2018
Updated Jul 10, 2020

With the election season in India commencing in a couple of weeks, there is unlikely to be any more moves for engagement between Islamabad and New Delhi and a hiatus on a year till a new government is formed in May 2019 could be anticipated.

In Weekly Media Briefing Indian Ministry of External Affairs Official Spokesperson Mr Raveesh Kumar said on September 20, 2018, “I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side a meeting between External Affairs Minister and Pakistani Foreign Minister will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly at a mutually convenient date and time”.

Transcript of the briefing was released on September 21. On the same day Mr Raveesh Kumar in an official statement indicated that, “In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan in New York”.

The apparent flip flop within 24 hours naturally took those who do not follow the trajectory of India Pakistan relations closely by surprise, to the experts and analysts it appeared business as usual.

In fact some including former high commissioner of Pakistan to India Mr Abdul Basit claimed that he was surprised with the Indian announcement of talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and thus the cancellation appeared to be quite normal.

So let us recount the sequence of events.

The background to agreement to the talks was explained by Mr Raveesh Kumar in the Weekly Media briefing thus, “You are all aware that our Prime Minister had written to the Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan to congratulate him on his assumption of the post of the Prime Minister. The letter which we have received is in response to that letter which was handed over to us by the High Commissioner of Pakistan to India on 17th September. At the same time, on the same day another letter was handed over from the Pakistani Foreign Minister to our External Affairs Minister basically reiterating Prime Minister of Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the External Affairs Minister and the Pakistani Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly session”.

The exchange of letters somehow seemed to convey to the Indian government of a change of approach in Pakistan under the Imran Khan government.

On the other hand the reason for the change of stance by the Indian government was explained by the MEA Official Spokesperson in his Statement on 21st thus,

“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 twenty postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism confirm that Pakistan will not mend its ways.

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 the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan. The letter from the Prime Minister of Pakistan had spoken of, inter alia bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism.

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. Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless”.

The harsh words used by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, personally naming the Pakistan Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan indicates that Indian stance of talking only after Pakistan gives a commitment to shed terror continues to be retained and there may have been a review which failed to last after the incident of mutilation of the Border Security Forces (BSF) trooper whose body was found on the Pakistan side of the border in a joint search launched by the Indian and Pakistan border forces.

In fact the proposal for initiation of talks when Pakistan Post had issued 20 special postage stamps on July 24 was ill founded, given that there were no favourable moves from the Pakistani side except for rhetorical statement of intent which were also accompanied by support to the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.

The positive response from the Indian side may also have been to satisfy the international community which is pressing for talks with Islamabad while to keep the domestic lobby in favour a quick retraction was announced.

With the election season in India commencing in a couple of weeks, there is unlikely to be any more moves for engagement between Islamabad and New Delhi and a hiatus on a year till a new government is formed in May 2019 could be anticipated.

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