India calls off talks

India calls off talks

India calls off talks, Seen as a diplomatic coup, Modi’s bold gesture was aimed at ushering in a new era in the relationship between the two hostile neighbours.

Pakistan consults Kashmiri separatists, India calls it interference
Talk to us or to the separatists, Sujatha Singh tells Pak envoy

  • Foreign Secys of both nations were to meet on Aug 25
  • Pak envoy’s meeting with Kashmiri separatists irks Centre, Basit to continue talks today
  • On Sunday, Pakistan forces targeted 20 BSF posts along border
  • BJP, Congress lambast Pak envoy for inviting separatists for talks
  • Islamabad says major setback to Pak’s initiative to better ties
  • The talks were a follow-up of Modi-Sharif meeting in Delhi

Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit (right) and Shabir Shah, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party after a meeting at Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on MondayNew Delhi: India has called off the secretary level talks to be held with Pakistan on August 25. The stage for these talks was set when Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif responded positively to prime minister Narendra Modi’s invite to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 26.

Seen as a diplomatic coup, Modi’s bold gesture was aimed at ushering in a new era in the relationship between the two hostile neighbours. This foreign secretary level engagement was expected to work out the nitty-gritty on the way forward between the two countries.

Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin informed that before calling off the talks foreign secretary Sujatha Singh had spoken to Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit regarding his invite to the Kashmiri separatist leaders for talks.” Talk to separatists or us,” recounted Akbaruddin as the secretary Singh telling Basit. She told Basit that talk with the separatists was not acceptable to India.

Basit went ahead with his plan to meet the separatists and met Shabbir Shah. Immediately, the talks were called off, and Singh conveyed the government’s decision to Basit.

There was a swift reaction from Islamabad and the foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said that this decision was a setback to Pakistan’s effort to ‘promote good-neighbourly relations with India.”

It was asserted that this was a usual practice with Pakistan to have a dialogue with the Kashmiri leaders before any major Indo-Pak engagement so that the talks could be fruitful. Even Shabbir Shah voiced the same views. Basit is also scheduled to meet other Kashmiri separatists on Tuesday.

According to observers, Basit’s initiative with the Kashmiri separatists was the last straw for the Indian side. There had been a series of provocations like incursions across the line of control, and violations of the ceasefire. On a visit to the Kashmir area, prime minister Modi had also voiced the long standing charge against Pakistan that having lost the capacity to fight a conventional war, it has been engaged in a proxy war.

Last week, former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid had also questioned the rationale of holding these talks when nothing had changed on the ground. “We are not against the talks, but the government must tell us as to how the situation has changed,” he had stressed recalling that when in opposition the BJP was steadfastly against any engagement with Pakistan. However, having made a bold start, Modi had invested quite heavily in improving relations with Pakistan, and the secretary level talks were going ahead as scheduled. But these irritants from Pakistan climaxed in the ties going back to the cold pre-Modi days.

Earlier on Monday, in a tweet, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, "Pak High Commissioner meeting separatists, Pak Army intruding across the border, ISI attacking Indian Consulate in Herat BJP govt sleeps. Ache Din Agaye".

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said the invitations were an attempt to spoil the environment, but pointed out that Modi was the only PM to openly say that Pakistan was indulging in a "proxy war".

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