In a statement, the MEA said, “The latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism confirm that Pakistan will not mend its ways.”
Barely 24 hours after agreeing to it, the government on Friday called off a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps 'glorifying' Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani.
Announcing the cancellation of the meeting, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the incidents 'exposed' the 'true face' of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan to the world as well as Islamabad’s evil agenda behind the proposal for talks.
India on Thursday accepted Khan’s request for a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
"The latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism confirm that Pakistan will not mend its ways," Kumar said.
He said both the 'deeply disturbing' developments took place after Thursday’s announcement by India to accept Pakistan’s proposal for the meeting.
Three policemen were abducted from their homes in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and shot dead in cold blood by the Hizbul Mujahideen on Friday.
Following the incident, opposition parties criticised the government and asked it to explain the rationale behind accepting such a meeting when Pakistan-based terror outfits are killing Indian security personnel along the border in Jammu-Kashmir.
Kumar said India’s decision to agree to Pakistan’s proposal for the meeting was in response to the spirit reflected in separate letters from Khan and Qureshi.
“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,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson said any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be 'meaningless'.
"In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York," he said.
Reacting to India's decision, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi alleged that there is a group in New Delhi that does not want talks to happen.
Qureshi was also quoted by the Express Tribune as saying that India has not responded positively to Pakistan's invitation for dialogue.
"It seems that India is already preparing for its elections due in the country next year...Pakistan had asked for the talks in the larger interest of the region," the report further quoted him as saying.
Qureshi expressed disappointment at the cancellation of talks, saying it was 'unfortunate'.
"It is unfortunate that India has not given a positive response. Indian has once again wasted an opportunity for peace," Qureshi said.
He said that it was important to sit and talk for the sake of peace and stability in the region.
"The refusal of India shows that Indian government is facing internal pressure," he said.
"It seems that India is already preparing for its elections due in the country next year," Qureshi was quoted as saying
The Swaraj-Qureshi meeting would have been the first such high-level engagement between the two sides since suspension of dialogue between the two nations after the Pathankot air base terror attack in 2016.
India-Pakistan ties have nose-dived since then in view of a number of terror strikes by Pakistan-based groups. India retaliated by carrying out ‘surgical strikes’ in September 2016 across the Line of Control. India has been maintaining that terror and talks cannot go together.
Accepting the proposal for the meeting, India had, however, made it clear that it was not resumption of dialogue and the decision doesn’t change the country’s position on cross-border terrorism.
Reacting to the government's decision, senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said, "Better late than never. And sometimes credit should also be given to us."
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said calling off the meeting between the foreign ministers was bad news as both the countries owed it to the people of the state to carry on the dialogue.
‘Calling off meeting between India & Pak's FMs is bad news for J&K. Both countries owe it to people of state & country to carry on dialogue rather than talking through media. Inspite of a historic mandate, it is media & not NDA leadership that is setting the agenda,’ she wrote on Twitter.