Pakistani PM Imran Khan brands India 'arrogant' after it cancels talks

Khan (above) said in a Twitter post that he was "disappointed" by India's decision.
Khan (above) said in a Twitter post that he was "disappointed" by India's decision.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD • India's decision to cancel rare talks with Islamabad was disappointing and "arrogant", Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said last Saturday, after New Delhi accused the premier of harbouring an "evil agenda".

India pulled the plug on a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, set for this week on the sidelines of a major United Nations conference, just one day after saying it would go ahead.

The Indian foreign ministry blamed the about-face on recent actions that had revealed Pakistan's "evil agenda" and the "true face" of Mr Khan, who hit back on Twitter last Saturday.

"Disappointed at the arrogant & negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue," he wrote. "However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture."

New Delhi said it cancelled the talks after the "latest brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities" and the recent release of a series of Pakistani postage stamps "glorifying a terrorist and terrorism".

India did not specify which killings it was referring to, but an Indian border guard in the disputed territory of Kashmir was recently killed and his body mutilated. Three policemen were then found dead last Friday after being abducted in India-administered Kashmir.

The two militaries exchanged barbs last Saturday.

Indian media quoted army chief Bipin Rawat calling for "stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out".

In response, Pakistan's military spokesman said his country was "ready for war". "We are a nuclear nation and we are ready for war but in the interest of the people of Pakistan and the neighbours and the region we want to walk the path of peace," Major-General Asif Ghafoor told private television channel Dunya News. "The statement from the Indian army chief is irresponsible," he added.

Pakistan recently issued postage stamps of Burhan Wani, a charismatic Kashmiri militant commander killed by Indian troops in July 2016, whose death sparked a wave of violent protests in the territory.

The meeting in New York between Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart, Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi - on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly - was confirmed only last Thursday.

It came after Mr Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart, Mr Narendra Modi, calling for a resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed foes.

High-level talks between India and Pakistan are rare. Indian media said the meeting would have been the first in nearly three years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2018, with the headline 'Pakistani PM Khan brands India 'arrogant' after it cancels talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe