India has cancelled a meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart less than 24 hours after agreeing to what would have been the first high-level contact between the nuclear-armed neighbours in three years.
Delhi’s foreign affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters the planned meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi had been called off due to events in the past day that had exposed the “evil agenda of Pakistan”.
He cited the discovery on Friday morning of the bodies of three police officers in Kashmir, a restive Himalayan territory claimed by both countries, and the scene of an insurgency India says is funded and armed by Islamabad.
Pakistan’s postal service had also released a series of 20 commemorative stamps showing scenes of what it calls India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir, some honouring slain militant leaders that Delhi regards as terrorists.
The latest killings and the release of the stamps “confirm that Pakistan will not mend its ways”, Kumar said.
“The true face of the new prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has been revealed to the world,” he added.
Delhi had initially agreed to a request by Khan inviting the countries’ foreign ministers to meet at the sidelines of the UN general assembly next week.
Senior officials from the two countries have had no public contact since early 2016, when nascent peace talks were suspended after militants attacked an Indian army air force base near the Pakistan border in Punjab state.
India believes the attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group alleged to have close ties to Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus.
The Narendra Modi government had been receiving some criticism, especially among the more jingoistic elements of India’s media, for agreeing to meet with Pakistan days after an Indian border security officer was found with his throat slit along the ceasefire line between the two countries in Kashmir.
Hardline anti-India elements within the Pakistan military have also been accused in the past of sabotaging efforts by the country’s civilian leaders to improve ties with India and turn the page on their 70-year antagonistic relationship.
Khan, a former cricketer turned politician, peppered his campaign speeches with criticism of India but surprised some by reaching out to Delhi in the first days of his leadership.
“Pakistan and India have an undeniably challenging relationship,” Khan had written in a letter to Modi requesting the meeting. “We, however, owe it to our peoples, especially the future generations, to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues.”
Pakistan is yet to respond to the cancellation of the meeting.