PMO took call on talks, kept MEA out of loop

Soon after Basit’s meeting with Shah got over at about 5 pm, Sushma consulted Modi.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: August 20, 2014 8:43 am
modi-main Sushma consulted Modi, and then told MEA officials to announce the decision to cancel the talks.

The decision to call off the Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in consultation with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, at about 1:30 pm on Monday. Following the high-level “political” consultations, it was decided that the talks would be called off if Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit went ahead with his meeting with Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah at 4 pm on Monday.

It is reliably learnt that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials were not kept in the loop. Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was informed after the decision was taken, and she then called up Basit at about 2:30 pm and told him that the talks would be called off if he met Shah.

Soon after Basit’s meeting with Shah got over at about 5 pm, Sushma consulted Modi, and then told MEA officials to announce the decision to cancel the talks. Singh did not call up Basit again to inform him about the cancellation of talks. Instead, the MEA’s official spokesperson was asked to make the announcement public.

Reacting to India’s decision, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said on Tuesday, “The High Commissioner of Pakistan did not interfere in India’s internal affairs. Pakistan is not subservient to India. It is a sovereign country, a legitimate stakeholder in the Jammu and Kashmir dispute… That is just a pretext. It was not the first time that meetings with Hurriyat leaders took place.”

She asserted that “Kashmir is not a part of India… It is a disputed territory.”

Meanwhile, other separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, met Basit on Tuesday.

While officials conceded that they do not have a problem with the Pakistan envoy meeting the Hurriyat leaders, what rankled them was the “timing” of the meeting.

“There have been meetings between the Pakistan High Commissioner and the Hurriyat leaders in the past. But have they met before an Indian Foreign Secretary or an Indian Foreign Minister goes to Pakistan for bilateral talks? That was the key issue before us,” said a top government source.

South Block was particularly peeved at the fact that when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not meet the Hurriyat leaders in May this year, why did Basit meet them now.

However, there are no straight answers to this question. While a section in South Block feels that it was a “misreading” of the situation by the Pakistan High Commissioner — having seen positive statements from Modi — another section believes that this could be a deliberate move.

But government sources confirmed that there was no move to send back the envoy — as was being demanded.

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  1. A
    Azad Murtad
    Aug 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
    Finally we have a prime minister who takes decision rather than Ngo's or the news traders like previous govt.
    Reply
    1. V
      Vijay, Florida
      Aug 20, 2014 at 2:59 am
      Tasnim Aslam says stan did not interfere in India's internal affair because according to her Kashmir is not an Indian territory (disputed territory). Everyone is enled to their personal opinion. But when you go to a country you have to follow its rules. Balochistan was forcibly annexed into stan, but whenever Indian diplomats go there, they don't meet with Baloch Liberation Army members.
      Reply
      1. A
        Arun
        Aug 20, 2014 at 7:00 am
        Why should the stani High Commissioner be allowed to meet the Hurriyat leaders? Considering their stand, those leaders should not be permitted to either meet any stani official or leave the country. They desire to break up India so why should that be tolerated?
        Reply
        1. R
          Ripple
          Aug 20, 2014 at 4:52 am
          "There have been meetings between the stan High Commissioner and the Hurriyat leaders in the past".Yes. However this is the first time a hero is in PM's seat. Previously there was buffoon in that seat and anything could have happened.
          Reply
          1. D
            DK Sharma
            Aug 21, 2014 at 3:39 am
            Is it necessary to keep MEA in loopI when the decision is taken by Modi and Sushma Swaraj. This is an attempt to create an issue by Indian express when there is nothing.This is utterly mischievous.
            Reply
            1. P
              Proton
              Aug 20, 2014 at 1:22 am
              Here ! The Indian Express appears to have been insulted and humiliated by Indian Government taking a stance in this matter ! Gilani or Shah are no great than an ordinary extremists and separatists. India certainly has no reason to object in stan Govt. Officials talk to A or B or C? But if they ¨take their views in consideration¨ before having official talks with Indian Government, (thats the timing of their meet) it certainly amounts to recognise them as a party to decision. And not to forget, IE thinks that the PM and Foreign Minister should talk to Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh before taking a decision ! Sir this is democratic rule not bureaucratic one.
              Reply
              1. K
                Krishna Iyer
                Aug 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm
                Repeal Art 370, open the doors for all indians to march into J&K. Declare Pak High Commissioner persona non grata. no need to talk.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Krish
                  Aug 20, 2014 at 3:16 am
                  It's wrong to say MEA we're not consulted when the PM discussed with Ms Swaraj.And such decisions are taken by the head of the state not the diplomats.
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    K
                    Aug 20, 2014 at 5:50 am
                    It is not always necessary in the government for an Under-Secretary level Babu in the Ministry to move a proposal as to "what to do" all the way up the hierarchy for the concerned Minister or Prime Minister to approve the suggested course of action. Where TIME is the essence in "Decision Making" as in the instant case, it is only correct for the Prime Minister as Head of the Government to give clear direction on what exactly is to be done, without wasting any time. Moreover, how could it be said that MEA had not been kept in the loop ?
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      kris kumar
                      Aug 20, 2014 at 5:56 am
                      I think it is time for Indian PM to consider full support to the Balouchistani and their freedom from the clutches of ruthless ISI. This will stop from interfering.Have you noticed no LOC firing since the visit has been called off?
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Me
                        Aug 20, 2014 at 6:52 am
                        Atal Bihari Vajpayee
                        Reply
                        1. N
                          Namasivayam.N
                          Aug 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm
                          No, he means Dr.MMS. He was the PM referred as 'previously there was buffoon in that seat........'by Ripple!
                          Reply
                          1. N
                            Namasivayam.N
                            Aug 20, 2014 at 8:09 am
                            The Hurriyat leaders should have been put under house arrest and prevented from meeting the stani Envoy in the Indian soil. This kind of meeting which is supposed to have been going on for some 2 decades can not be allowed to go on. Even now it is not too late and they should be under house arrest now.
                            Reply
                            1. P
                              Pichappan
                              Aug 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm
                              India should not waste her precious human resources i.e young jawans of our army and material resources just to keep Kashmir because the local people do not cooperate with the administration there as they prefer stan over India knowing well and aware of the benefits they derive out of Union Govts contribution and chaotic situation prevailing in stan.
                              Reply
                              1. P
                                Peter Paul
                                Aug 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm
                                India should talk with Pak with the language they understand. AGNI
                                Reply
                                1. R
                                  Rajiv
                                  Aug 20, 2014 at 7:06 am
                                  stan needs to know well their limits. It is a clear statement, if limits are crossed then you get a being reply. Previous governments had a "chalta hai" atude- whatever Pak did was not categorically refuted and thus Pak's confidence was always growing. Now it's time to show them their right place. Good job PMO.
                                  Reply
                                  1. R
                                    Ravi Ranjan
                                    Aug 20, 2014 at 3:42 am
                                    Pkisatan envoy's meeting with separatist leaders was clearly intended to sabotage the talks undoubtedly at the behest of the ISI/
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Sethu
                                      Aug 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm
                                      What ever was happening for the past so many years have not taken any fruit so why are we comparing it with previous versions this is version 2014, Let stan know that we should try a different strategy rather than the same old one Congrats PMO this is how you can make a country powerful by being stern the warning was given but they did not heed. Let me ask one more thing if we are not recognising those agency in Jammu and Kashmir why should we not put them as anti national and why are they walking free in the streets to give meetings and meeting Pak dignitories.
                                      Reply
                                      1. H
                                        harry
                                        Aug 20, 2014 at 10:04 am
                                        India does not wish to talk with s. End of story.
                                        Reply
                                        1. C
                                          Counselor Shripad
                                          Aug 20, 2014 at 5:23 am
                                          ...If Sushamaji is consulted by Modiji, then it is enough...the PMO and MEA are expected to implement that decision....
                                          Reply
                                          1. C
                                            common
                                            Aug 20, 2014 at 11:04 am
                                            MEA officials need to learn new diplomacy since India failed as a nation in perfecting it. India believed Nehruvian policies would suffice its requirements. Just because he had a large heart would not allow India to face the cruel world boldly. Who is Nehru today except he was India's first prime minister. Policies need re orientation to face future. Power does speak and India is not a weak country as projected by Congress.
                                            Reply
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