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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.
    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.
      1. A
        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?
        1. R
          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.
          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.
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