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United Nations

India and Pakistan trade blame at UN after planned New York meeting falls through

India said Pakistan is harbouring terrorists

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 September, 2018, 2:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 September, 2018, 9:56pm

India and Pakistan, whose foreign ministers almost met in New York for what would have been the nuclear-armed neighbours’ first senior-level talks in three years, instead exchanged hostilities at the United Nations.

India’s external affairs minister Saturday blamed Pakistan’s alleged support of violence against it for the breakdown of the most recent attempt to improve relations, accusing Pakistan of harbouring terrorist groups and using them as an instrument of foreign policy.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, speaking hours later from the same rostrum, said India was seeking to “divert world attention from its brutalities”.

“India called off dialogue for a third time for the Modi government, each time on flimsy grounds,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, calling on India to seek a resolution of disputes.

“They prefer politics over peace. They used the Kashmir violence as an excuse to back out of the talks.”

India days earlier called off a foreign minister-level meeting during the UN General Assembly meeting because of renewed violence in the Kashmir region, which is claimed in full by both nations.

In response, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who suggested the renewed push for reconciliation after his July election victory, said he was disappointed by India’s “arrogant response”.

“We are accused of sabotaging the process of talks,” India Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said Saturday at the UN meeting.

“This is a complete lie. We believe that talks are only rational means to resolve the most complex of disputes. Talks with Pakistan have begun many times. If they stopped, it was only because of their behaviour.”

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, divided between the two countries but sought by each in its entirety.

The previous attempt at talks between the South Asian neighbours came in December 2015, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.

The two nations later called off talks after attacks on Indian military bases that Indian officials blamed on Pakistani militants.

India has long said it’s open to peace talks if Pakistan stops its covert support for groups that strike inside India.

The US has also called on Islamabad to end support for terrorist groups. Pakistan has consistently denied that it supports such groups.

Bloomberg, Associated Press