Pakistan expresses 'disappointment' after India cancels foreign ministers' meet

Pakistan expresses 'disappointment' after India cancels foreign ministers' meet

Islamabad (Staff Report/Agencies): The government of Pakistan on Friday stated it was deeply disappointed at the announcement made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi about cancellation of the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

According to a statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Office, 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.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said the alleged killing of BSF soldier took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting.

He added that Pakistan categorically reject these allegations once again and offer to conduct a joint investigation to establish the truth.

He said 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.

The Foreign Office spokesperson, terming it an “ill-considered cancellation of the meeting”, said that India “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”.

He said Pakistan has always desired peaceful and good-neighborly relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Dr Faisal said 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.

The spokesperson said Pakistan will persist with its quest for peace and development, but our approach will continue to be guided by the aforementioned principles and the dictates of national dignity.

The Spokesperson said the most unfortunate is the reference in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The FO spokesperson said these comments are against all norms of civilized discourse and diplomatic communication.

On Friday evening, the Indian government announced the cancellation of a meeting between foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York.

The news came just a day after the confirmation of the proposed meeting by India.

On Thursday, Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi will meet in New York.

"India has accepted the Pakistani prime minister's suggestion," the spokesperson said. "The meeting will take place on Pakistan’s request."

Meanwhile, United States on Friday also welcomed the proposed meeting between foreign ministers of Pakistan and India on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York.

Addressing a media briefing in Washington, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that it is "terrific" news for the Pakistanis and Indians to be able to sit down and have a conversation together.

Citing the letters exchanged between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Nauert expressed the hope that the conditions will be set for a good and strong relationship in future.

On July 26, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his first speech after winning the general election, had said that he was keen to improve relations with India and wanted work to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue.

This is pertinent to mention that Pakistan and India have not been engaged in any significant dialogue since 2015.