Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has alleged that India’s “domestic political and electoral compulsions” were behind New Delhi’s reluctance to talk to Imran Khan’s new government in Pakistan.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were slated to meet on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session in New York.
However, India called off the meeting last week, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir, and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” terrorist Burhan Wani.
“Why are they reluctant? Simply politics, elections…they are scared of the electorate. They have swung the pendulum to such an extreme (that), now they’re finding it difficult to bring it back. And (with) the elections round the corner, they (Indian government) felt that it could boomerang,” Mr Qureshi alleged in response to a question at an event organised by the Asia Society in New York.
India has maintained that there can be no talks with Pakistan unless it stops supporting terrorists and terror outfits.
On Thursday Sushma Swaraj left a meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers early. Her move was seen as a huge snub to Pakistan. The meeting was also being attended by the Pakistani foreign minister.
Responding to a query about the incident, Mr Qureshi termed it as “Politics, nothing else…domestic politics”.
Ahead of his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, the Pakistani foreign minister said, “Today, India is a strategic partner of the US. We have no qualms about it. But we feel that Pakistan is an ally who has always stood with the US.”
Mr Qureshi went on to say that “The Trump Administration will miss an opportunity if it does not engage with the new government of Pakistan.”
Mr Qureshi also sought US intervention in the Indo-Pak talks. “If the US wants us to help, and we want to help in our own interest because we want peace in the region, then they (America) have to tell the new strategic partner (India) to give us ease on the eastern side so that we can concentrate on areas of mutual interest,” he said.
Pakistan has been consistently seeking US intervention in Indo-Pak talks. However, successive US governments have refused to entertain such a request asserting that it is for the two neighbours to decide on the pace and scope of the talks. India has also made it clear that no third party has any role in India-Pakistan relations.