NEW DELHI (TIP): India on June 20 rejected a Pakistani media report claiming New Delhi is ready for talks with Islamabad, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister S Jaishankar made no such mention in their reply to congratulatory messages from their counterparts – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi both had written letters to their respective Indian counterparts following the parliamentary elections in India last month. According to Pakistani media reports, in those letters, Imran and Qureshi, while congratulating Modi and Jaishankar, renewed calls for resumption of dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. The Indian prime minister and the foreign minister responded to the letters, with some reports claiming that New Delhi had shown its willingness to enter into a dialogue with Islamabad.
In response to queries regarding replies to congratulatory messages by PM and FM of Pakistan, an Official Spokesperson from Ministry of External Affairs said, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that Pakistan has to build a terror free environment first for normal and cooperative relations between two neighbors.
“As per the established diplomatic practice, PM and EAM have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan. In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbors, including Pakistan. In his message, PM said, “For this, it is important to build an environment of trust, free of terror, violence and hostility.” EAM also emphasized the need for an ‘atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence”, the MEA statement said.
After India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson issued the rebuttal and insisted that New Delhi’s position remained the same, Pakistan’s Foreign Office played down the hype over the letters and termed it a diplomatic practice for the leadership to congratulate new officeholders and for them to respond. Islamabad’s Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal also issued a clarification later, cautioning against media speculations.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together. The latest letter controversy suggests that the chances of any meaningful talks between the two countries in the near future are far away.