India-Pakistan ties hit new low, Jaitley likely to skip SAARC meet

Signalling a deepening frostiness in bilateral ties with Pakistan, India’s Finance Minister is expected to skip the meeting of SAARC finance ministers in Islamabad August 25-26. Instead, India may send economic affairs secretary for the SAARC meet, informed sources said.
There is no official word on Jaitley’s participation in the SAARC finance ministers’ meeting in Islamabad. The final decision will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The relations between India and Pakistan have plummeted to a new low, with both sides trading accusations and playing a game of one-upmanship. In a tit-for-tat response to Pakistan’s support for violence in Jammu and Kashmir, PM Modi, in his Independence Day speech, subtly alluded to human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan, saying people from these regions currently administered by Pakistan have thanked him. This is the first time an Indian prime minister has raised Balochistan and PoK in their Independence Day message, signalling a hardening of the Modi government’s posture towards Pakistan and the drawing of a new line on Kashmir.
Pakistan’s response to Mr Modi’s remarks suggest intransigence, which suggest that bilateral ties are headed for a deep freezer in days to come with minimal high-level contacts.

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India set to boycott Commonwealth Parliamentary Meet in Islamabad

n the backdrop of recent terror attacks on the Indian soil by Pakistan, a new issue has threatened to cloud ties between the two neighbours. Pakistan has stirred another controversy by not inviting Speaker of Jammu & Kashmir assembly to the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Union to be held in Islamabad from September 30-October 8, eliciting strong objections from India.

Registering India’s disappointment, the speakers of all other states who were invited, along with speaker of the Lok Sabha Ms. Sumitra Mahajan, decided unanimously that India would not attend the meet if the J&K speaker is not invited. “We (31 speakers) reviewed this issue and felt this was wrong. We reject this decision (of Pakistan). We are writing to the CPA chairperson that if J&K speaker is not invited then India will not attend the meeting or change the venue (for us to attend),” said Ms Mahajan.

Jammu and Kashmir Speaker Ravindra Gupta called Pakistan a “terrorist state” while thanking the speakers for their decision saying it was a question of unity and integrity of the country. When India asked Pakistan for a reason it gave an explanation citing an old rule of 1951-57 where they raised the issue at the UN Security Council (UNSC), which is no longer relevant, said Ms. Mahajan.

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India, Pakistan make placatory noises to improve strained ties

After protracted posturing and sharp rhetoric, India and Pakistan are now making placatory noises saying they want to improve and normalize their bilateral relations. New Delhi, however, put the onus on Islamabad, indicating that any marked improvement in the accident-prone bilateral ties can happen only after the latter delivers on its promise of curbing anti-India terror.

Speaking at a think tank in New York, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley underscored that India wanted to improve or at least normalise its relations with its neighbour, but made it clear that the onus was on Islamabad.

“The message that we are interested in normalising our relationship with them or at least improving our relationship with them and the onus is on Pakistan for this purpose has been loud and clear,” he said at the New York-based think-tank Council on Foreign Relations.

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