Modi calls off India-Pakistan talks

India called off the scheduled foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan, objecting to its envoy meeting Kashmir separatists on the eve of the dialogue. The tough response renders bleak prospects of resumption of dialogue with Pakistan anytime soon. Pakistan's engagement with Kashmir separatists has always caused heartburn in New Delhi, but never led to the breakdown of dialogue. With the unprecedented response to the latest provocation from Pakistan, the Narendra Modi government has set the bar high for Islamabad.
“Pakistan and powers within that country do not want Indo-Pak ties to be normal,“ defence minister Arun Jaitley said while visiting forward posts on the border.
High-level government sources said India had told Pakistan that this sort of indulgence of separatists was unacceptable when Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif came for the inauguration of the Modi regime. Sharif had heeded the advice, and stayed away from the Hurriyat group when he came here on May 26.However, on Monday morning, Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit turned down foreign secretary Sujatha Singh when she asked him not to go ahead with his meeting with separatists scheduled later in the day.
Singh warned Basit that the Indian government would take a dim view of the meeting and asked the Pakistani high commissioner to choose between meeting separatists and the government. Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh dismissed his explanation that his meetings were to facilitate the peace process in Kashmir, saying India needed no such assistance. “Pakistan has to decide whom it wants to engage with: with the government of India or the separatists,“ They should realize that no effort at friendship can be considered genuine if they engage in such unfriendly acts,“ said a top-level government functionary .
The Pakistan High Commission reacted to India's decision by saying that such meetings had happened in the past, like when Mathai met his counterpart, Jalil Jilani, and when Krishna met Hina Khar, the High Commission had met Hurriyat.
According to Pakistan diplomats, India was running away from talks and the decision to call it off was “an attempt to divert attention from internal issues“. India's decision came just three days after Modi refrained from attacking Pakistan in his Independence Day address and offered a partnership in the battle against poverty in Saarc countries. The talks between Singh and her Pakistani counterpart, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry , would have been the first official-level meeting by the Narendra Modi government.
Announcing the cancellation of talks, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “The Indian foreign secretary conveyed to the Pakistani high commissioner today , 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.“ The Indian statement questioned Pakistan's sincerity and its “negative approaches“.
Disregarding India's views, Basit will go ahead and meet Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Yasin Malik on Tuesday . The shift in Islamabad's response since May 26 when Sharif departed from the Pakistani routine of hosting separatists is attributed to the power tussle within the neighbouring country . Thousands of Sharif 's opponents have laid siege to Islamabad, vowing to stay put until he quits. This may have allowed the Pakistan Army , which objected to Sharif not meeting separatists, to gain an upper hand.

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