After India unilaterally called off the foreign secretary-level talks following the meeting between Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit and Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah in New Delhi on August 18, Pakistan’s media has widely reported the decision as a “setback” to efforts to promote improved neighbourly relations.
“Hopes of Pakistan and India working their way back to normal relations received a major setback when Delhi called off on Monday the August 25 meeting of foreign secretaries of the two countries because of Pakistani high commissioner’s consultative session with a Hurriyat leader,” said Dawn, a leading English daily.
Dawn and The Express Tribune also tried to unscramble India’s decision to cancel the meeting. Dawn speculated that the alleged ceasefire violations at the border was one of key reasons for the cancellation. The Express Tribune reported that India cancelled the scheduled meeting due to the ongoing political uncertainly in Pakistan.
Another English daily, The Nation, reported the incident in detail under the headline “India cancels Pakistan talks in row over Kashmir.” It also cited the US’ disappointments in regards to the cancellation, stating that the US “deplored” the move.
The News International reported that India has given Pakistan a choice between the foreign secretary-level talks and meetings with Kashmiri separatists. It also drew attention to Pakistan’s delayed and lacklustre reaction to India’s decision.
“Pakistan once again lost the media narrative with a delayed response. The Indian government went into an overdrive with press releases, tweets and comments on Facebook while Islamabad took its time to respond with a lacklustre statement.”
India’s Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was due to travel to Islamabad on August 25 to hold talks with her counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry.
On August 18, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for India’s external ministry, had said foreign secretary Singh had conveyed to the Pakistan High Commissioner “in clear and unambiguous terms,that Pakistan’s continued efforts to interfere in India’s internal affairs were unacceptable.”
“It was underlined that the Pakistani High Commissioner’s meetings with these so-called leaders of the Hurriyat undermines the constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by Prime Minister Modi in May on his very first day in office,” added the spokesman.
In reply to India’s move, Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs released a statement on August 18, in which it rejected India’s reservation to Pakistani envoys meeting with Kashmiri leaders. “It is a longstanding practice that, prior to Pakistan-India talks, meetings with Kashmiri leaders are held to facilitate meaningful discussions on the issue of Kashmir,” said the statement.
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