Pakistan on Monday termed India’s move to call off foreign secretary-level meeting as a ‘setback’ to its efforts seeking ‘good neighbourly’ relations.
Islamabad’s reaction came hours after New Delhi pulled out of the next week’s crucial talks between the two foreign secretaries in protest over Pakistan high commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri leaders.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam confirmed the cancellation of talks, which were scheduled to take place next week in Islamabad.
“Our high commissioner in India has been informed by the ministry of external affairs that the government of India, taking exception to the high commissioner’s meetings with Kashmiri leaders, has decided to call off the foreign secretary-level talks scheduled for August 25 in Islamabad,” Aslam said.
But she rejected the reasons that India cited for cancellation of talks. “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.”
“The prime minister has clearly articulated the vision of peace for development. It was in this spirit that he accepted the invitation of the Indian premier to attend his inaugural,” she maintained.
She said the meeting between the two foreign secretaries was scheduled at the directives of the two prime ministers. Diplomatic sources told The Express Tribune that political uncertainly in Pakistan might also be one of the reasons that prompted India to cancel scheduled talks for the time being.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2014.