Row reduces hopes for India-Pakistan thaw

Row reduces hopes for India-Pakistan thaw

The Indian government has snubbed Islamabad’s attempts at reviving peace talks by cancelling a ministerial level meeting and declaring a day of commemoration for the bombing of terrorist targets in Pakistan.

The first month of Imran Khan’s new government in Pakistan seemed to offer promise for improved diplomatic relations with India, until things turned sour this week.

The new prime minister extended an olive branch during his early addresses, indicating a willingness to restart peace talks that were put on hold after the 2016 terrorist attack on the Pathankot Indian air force station. In a letter on September 14, Mr Khan suggested that the foreign ministers of the two countries meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Initially the Indian Ministry of External Affairs agreed, clarifying that it would be “a meeting, not a resumption of dialogue”. But they later changed their mind. In a strongly worded statement on Friday, the Indian government announced blamed the cancellation on “two deeply disturbing developments”.

The first was the killing of an Indian Border Security Forces soldier near the border in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18. The slain soldier, Narender Kumar, was killed while on patrol by “unprovoked firing” from Pakistan, reports said. By the time his body was recovered, it had been mutilated.

The second issue was postage stamps issued by Pakistan in July honouring Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant killed by Indian forces in Kashmir in 2016.

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