Tension with India and political instability mark Pakistan’s 2017

Indian stubbornness is the main reason that we are unable to resume talks, says Foreign Office spokesman

Islamabad: India-Pakistan ties took a turn for the worse in 2017 even as the political situation in Pakistan turned fragile with the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif due to the Panama Papers scandal.

The ties between the two countries were strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The sentencing of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death in April only made things worse.

Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal claimed that Pakistan is all for the resumption of dialogue but India isn’t ready to talk. “Indian stubbornness is the main reason that we are unable to resume talks. The fault is with India and not with us. We are ready to talk about everything, but they don’t come forward and only hurl allegations,” Faisal said.

Relations between the two countries suffered another blow when a Pakistan Army special forces team snuck 250 metres across the Line of Control and beheaded two Indian security personnel in May.

In response, the Indian Army launched “punitive fire assaults” on Pakistani positions across the Line of Control, inflicting “some damage”.

Faisal said Pakistan cannot be blamed for “zero” progress in bilateral ties in 2017, as it made persistent efforts to improve relations.

“First, India linked talks with the issue of militancy but when we showed readiness to discuss every issue, including terrorism, then they ran away. Actually, [the] Indian side is not ready to sit across the table,” he alleged.

He said Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in a letter to his Indian counterpart urged India to maintain peace on the LoC after more than 1,300 ceasefire violations killed 54 civilians this year.

Throughout the year, Pakistan repeatedly summoned Indian diplomats to the Foreign Office to register its protests on the ceasefire violations.

“The same trend may continue in 2018. Nothing is changing on ground,” the spokesperson said.

The two countries also engaged in war or words in the United Nations and the Human Rights Council, wherein India called Pakistan the “face of international terrorism”.

In April, India reacted strongly when a Pakistan Army court sentenced Jadhav to death on charges of espionage after a secret trial. India demanded consular access to Jadhav, which Pakistan repeatedly denied claiming the man was an Indian spy. India took the case to the International Court of Justice, which put a hold on Jadhav’s execution.

Meanwhile, with a corruption case against him in court, Sharif was ousted from the position of prime Minister.

Sharif nominated his close aide and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.

With the move, Sharif became the first prime minister in the politically unstable Pakistan to quit in the middle of his term for a record third time.

The year will also be remembered for the deaths of hundreds of people in several terror attacks in provincial capitals Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta. Several other cities were also targeted by terrorists, including those from Daesh.

Pakistan this year also test-fired its first Submarine-launched Cruise Missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 450 kilometres, and the radar-evading surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 2,200 kilometres.

This year, career diplomat Tehmina Janjua became Pakistan’s first-ever woman Foreign Secretary, replacing Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry who was appointed as ambassador to the US.

Her elevation to the top bureaucratic slot prompted Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, to quit as the senior diplomat ostensibly was not ready to work under his junior.


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