Pakistan ‘spoilt the talks’, says Swaraj

Sushma_Swaraj_New_York_360India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj held Pakistan responsible for the on-going chill in relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Speaking to the media, after her meeting with IBSA Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly session, she said that Pakistan had ‘spoiled the talks’ between the two counties.

She opined that Pakistan had played the spoil sport by engaging with separatist Hurriyat leaders just prior to the scheduled meeting between Foreign Secretaries in Islamabad last month.

“New (Narendra Modi) government has given a new signal. So they (Pakistan) spoiled the talks, they spoiled the game,” said Swaraj.

She was reacting to the comments of Pakistan’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who had earlier remarked that talks between the two countries can happen only if New Delhi takes the first steps since India was the one which cancelled the August 25 talks.

“No question of first or second. As far as our reaction is concerned we have said repeatedly that if a reaction had to come it had to come at that time only. The initiative was there from our side,” added Swaraj.

She recalled that India had sent a positive signal by inviting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. During the visit to India, Modi and Sharif also discussed the possibilities of trading through the Wagah-Attari border. However, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India overstepped the line when he talked to Kashmiri separatist leader just four days prior to the Foreign Secretaries meeting.

Consequently, India had then termed the discussions by the Pakistan’s envoy with Kashmiri separatist leaders as a gross interference in its internal matters. Pakistan responded by saying that talking to all stakeholders was a must for constructive dialogue and in fact this was nothing new.

While the two countries have not yet decided to hold subsequent bilateral talks, both Swaraj and Aziz did exchange pleasantries at various multilateral events including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Dushanbe on September 12.

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