Don’t lecture us on tolerance, India tells Pakistan

“India doesn’t need to take a lecture from Pakistan on tolerance”, said officials after Pakistan’s foreign office issued a statement expressing “concern” over the threats to former foreign minister >Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch and singer >Ghulam Ali’s concerts. On Tuesday, the foreign ministry spokesperson in Islamabad said that Pakistan had “noted with concern attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India.” The statement concluded with a sharp reprove to India “to ensure that such incidents do not re-occur.”

Official sources rejected the Pakistani statement, saying that the issue was not one of foreign policy, but of internal law and order. “Is Pakistan the embodiment of tolerance, that we should listen to them? We don’t need to take a lecture from Pakistan on this issue. If India has a shortcoming, we will take care of it,” a senior official said.

The exchange underlines the continued strain in ties between both countries since the >cancellation of the NSA level talks scheduled in New Delhi on August 23-24, and ceasefire violations that escalated despite a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia this July. Last month, when the two PMs attended the same peacekeeping conference at the UN in New York, they held no talks at any level,and Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif only managed a wave at each other.

Significantly the sources said that India had been prepared to hold the NSA talks at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly but that Pakistan “wasn’t open to that”. “We were simply not on the same page,” said an official. Explaining that India would not compromise on the >Ufa agreement that the NSAs would discuss terror first, after which India is willing to consider a broader dialogue on other issues, the official said, “We would have been open to NSA talks on terrorism as discussed by the PMs, but Pakistan’s conditions got in the way. Pakistan can’t take away from the centrality of terror to our issues. If they are in denial of that, how can talks have a purpose?”

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s national security advisor Sartaj Aziz said that rising tensions between Pakistan and India are “hazardous to world peace.” Speaking to reporters ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington later this month, Mr. Aziz said that PM Sharif will take up the stalled dialogue process between India and Pakistan in talks with US President Obama expected on October 22, and added Pakistan’s oft-repeated allegations on Indian support to groups in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be raised as well.

India has denied the charges. The government says the sticking point to the dialogue comes from Pakistan’s refusal to take the agreements at Ufa forward, blaming “internal Pakistani politics”. “On Pakistan, there is turbulence in their system. Their non-elected players also have a part,” said the senior official, who did not wish to be identified, in the most detailed official account of the failed talks in the U.S.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 12:09:51 AM |

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