India on Monday called off its Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, taking a strong stand after the latter’s envoy held an hour-long meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders in Delhi.
Amidst protests from right wing outfits and a staunch criticism from the Opposition Congress, the government called off the talks which were scheduled to be held in the last week of August after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit held talks with Shabir Shah, a separatist leader.
“Pakistan High Commissioner’s meeting with the ‘so-called’ separatist leaders undermines the constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his very first day in office,” the External Affairs Ministry said.
“At a time when serious initiatives have been taken by the government of India, the invitation to Hurriyat leaders raises question on Pakistan’s intention,” the MEA said.
“Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh’s visit to Pakistan on August 25 stands cancelled,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
The Congress, however, still attacked the government, asking why Modi had rushed into inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India for his swearing-in even before the formation of his government.