The Government of Pakistan is deeply disappointed at the announcement made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi today about the cancellation of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan, which was to be held on the sidelines of UNGA in New York.
The reasons cited by the Indian side for the decision to cancel the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, within 24 hours of its public confirmation, are entirely unconvincing. The so-called “disturbing developments” alluded to in the Indian statement predated the Indian agreement to hold the bilateral meeting in New York.
Firstly, the alleged killing of BSF soldier took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting. When the allegations of Pakistan’s involvement first appeared, the Pakistan Rangers clearly conveyed to BSF through official channels that Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Pakistan Rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body. These facts were known to the Indian authorities and a part of the Indian media also reported that Pakistan had refuted its involvement. Yet, this motivated and malicious propaganda continued. Pakistan takes this opportunity to categorically reject these allegations once again. Our authorities would be prepared to conduct a joint investigation to establish the truth.
Secondly, the postage stamps mentioned in the Indian statement were issued before the 25 July 2018 elections, as a result of which the Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office. The stamps highlight the gross and systematic human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which were extensively documented also in a comprehensive report issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as late as June 2018. By falsely raising the canard of “terrorism”, India can neither hide its unspeakable crimes against the Kashmiri people nor can it delegitimise their indigenous struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination.
Most unfortunate is the reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. We choose not to further comment beyond saying that these comments are against all norms of civilised discourse and diplomatic communication.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had, in his first public comments after his electoral success, outlined a forward-looking vision of Pakistan-India relations. He had clearly stated that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two. In the same spirit, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his reply letter endorsed Prime Minister Modi’s call for “constructive engagement” and proposed the meeting of the two Foreign Ministers in New York to discuss a way forward on bilateral and SAARC-related matters.
We believe by its ill-considered cancellation of the meeting, India has once again wasted a serious opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship and put the region on the path of peace and development.
Pakistan has always desired peaceful and good-neighbourly relations with India, on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. In our view, dialogue and diplomacy are the only constructive way forward for the two countries to address mutual concerns, rebuild trust, resolve longstanding disputes, and establish durable peace in South Asia.
For its part, Pakistan will persist with its quest for peace and development. But, as we have consistently emphasised, our approach will continue to be guided by the aforementioned principles and the dictates of national dignity.