ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has slammed rival India for abruptly cancelling a rare meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries that were scheduled on the sidelines of the upcoming U.N. General Assembly.
New Delhi called it off Friday, a day after publicly confirming Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj would meet her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
“Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue,” Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted Saturday. “However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” said the Pakistani leader.
India cited “the latest brutal killings” of its security forces by “Pakistan-based entities” for cancelling the meeting and again accused the neighboring country of “glorifying terrorism.” The Indian foreign ministry said that "any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless."
The terrorism accusation stemmed from postage stamps Pakistan issued earlier this year of a charismatic Kashmiri militant commander, Burhan Wani, who was killed by Indian troops in July, 2016.
Pakistan dismissed Indian reasons for pulling out of the meeting as “entirely unconvincing.”
A Foreign Ministry statement said the incident involving the alleged killing of an Indian solider and Wani’s postage stamp predated New Delhi’s agreement to hold the foreign minister-level talks in New York.
“We believe by its ill-considered cancellation of the meeting, India has once again wasted a serious opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship and put the region on the path of peace and development,” Pakistan's ministry lamented.
It strongly denied Pakistan’s link to the alleged cross-border attack, saying it happened two days before New Delhi agreed to hold the meeting and both sides were already aware and in contact about it.
The Pakistani statement also defended the postage stamps, saying they “highlight the gross and systematic human rights violations” Indian forces are committing against residents of Kashmir on their side.
Wani’s death apparently sparked an unending wave of violent protests in the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming Muslim separatists in the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir, though both countries claim it in its entirety. Islamabad rejects the charges.
The foreign minister meeting that had been scheduled in New York for later this month would have been the first high-level contact between India and Pakistan in nearly three years.
The Indian decision to attend the meeting was made after Khan wrote to India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, and called for a resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed rival nations.
"The letter from the prime minister of Pakistan had spoken of ... bringing a positive change and mutual desire for peace as also readiness to discuss terrorism," said the Indian Foreign Ministry while announcing cancellation of the meeting with Pakistan.
"Now, it is obvious that behind Pakistan's proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office,” India alleged.
Pakistan denounced the Indian Foreign Ministry for its comments against Khan, saying they are against "all norms of civilized discourse and diplomatic communication.