Friday 27 September 2019 4:05 AM UTC
NEW DELHI Sept 27: The diplomatic face-off between India and Pakistan flared up at the meeting of the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.
Without any prior intimation, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi failed to turn up for foreign minister S Jaishankar’s opening statement, keeping the gathering waiting.
Arriving after Mr Jaishankar left, Mr Qureshi declared that his country would not engage with India “until and unless” it lifts the “siege” in Kashmir, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
Pakistan has been repeatedly flagging the Centre’s move in August to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir at various international forums. Its Prime Minister Imran Khan has however admitted that their efforts have not had much success.
“(I am) Disappointed by the international community…There’s no pressure yet on Modi,” Imran Khan said, adding, “We’ll keep putting the pressure.”
Today, Mr Khan’s party – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf — tweeted that Mr Qureshi “refuses to attend Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s statement at the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers”.
Asked about his delayed arrival at the meeting, Mr Qureshi said he did not want to sit with Mr Jaishankar in protest over Kashmir, reported news agency Press Trust of India. Asked to comment on the absence of Mr Qureshi during his opening statement, Mr Jaishankar refused, PTI reported.
The boycott was the latest in a series of measures from Pakistan to mark its protest against the centre’s move on Kashmir. Last month, Islamabad, among other things, had downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian ambassador.
India has insisted that the measures taken in Jammu and Kashmir are its internal affair — a stand that has been accepted by the international community.
In his address at the huge public meeting in Houston earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted Pakistan with a series of sharp comments.
“What India is doing has troubled some people who can’t even manage their own country,” the Prime Minister had said, without naming Pakistan. “They have made hatred towards India the centre of their agenda. They support terror, they harbor terrorists”.
Not to keep his audience guessing, he had added, “Whether it is 9/11 in America or 26/11 in Mumbai, where are its conspirators found? Not just you, the whole world knows who these people are”.
All eyes are now on Friday’s meet at the UN, when both PM Modi and Imran Khan are expected to address the General Assembly.
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