Wary of Global Glare, India Keeps Rhetoric Against Pakistan on Dimmer

Pakistan, having already downgraded diplomatic relations, has appeared eager to hear what the international community has to say on India's behaviour with regards to Kashmir.

New Delhi: India has been tamping down on its rhetoric against Pakistan in the hope that doing so can help stave off any potential interest in intervention from a worried international community.

Pakistan had previously announced that it will be downgrading diplomatic ties with India in the backdrop of the latter’s decision to take away the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. Pakistan has also suspended all trade and cancelled the bi-weekly Samjhauta Express.

Pakistani railway minister Sheikh Rasheed on Friday said that even the Thar Express – the last remaining rail link between the two countries – will be stopped.

At the Ministry of External Affairs’ weekly briefing on Friday, spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that all these steps taken by Pakistan were “unilateral”.

“That means, you don’t consult the other side before taking action, whether on trade, Samjhauta or in removing the high commissioner. This has been done without consulting us. We’ve urged them to reconsider their decision,” he stated.

Echoing India’s August 7 statement, Kumar added, “We regret the steps that they have announced. Our sense is that whatever is being done by Pakistan is [being done] to present an alarming picture of the bilateral relationship. That is not true.”

The MEA spokesperson said that there was a “feeling that Pakistan is nervous”.

“It is time for Pakistan to accept the reality and stop interfering in [the] internal affairs of other countries,” he noted.

India’s response to the strong statements from Pakistan has been deliberately kept low-key. 

“Pakistan is trying to create a panic-like situation…neither do we feel that such is the case…nor does the international community feel that there is a war-like situation at present,” Kumar asserted.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan likened the situation evolving in Jammu and Kashmir to a “genocide of Kashmiris”.

However, there was no discernible response to Khan’s tweet from Delhi.

Rather, sources felt that Pakistan has been trying to provoke a stronger Indian reaction so that the international community monitoring the latest flare-up in the subcontinent would feel compelled to intervene to calm down tempers.

Pakistan has already asked a slew of foreign governments, from the United States to China, to put pressure on India. Earlier, US president Donald Trump had expressed his willingness to be “mediator” on the Kashmir issue several times, but India has, so far, tamped down any attempt.

Also read: True or False, Trump Kashmir Bombshell Raises Questions About Modi’s Political Judgment

While Pakistan has asked India to withdraw its own high commissioner as a reciprocal step, India has not even been willing to publicly state whether it will comply with Islamabad’s demand. There was no mention of Ajay Bisaria’s return in the MEA’s official response on Wednesday, and neither did the MEA spokesperson reveal his exact whereabouts.

“I can only say that he is not in Delhi,” said Kumar.

When asked about Pakistan approaching the United Nations Secretary General and Security Council against India for changing the status-quo on Kashmir, Kumar said, “Our strategy is not something we will spell here”.

He reiterated that all action “taken in relation to Article 370 are internal matters”.

Kumar also proved unwilling to reveal any diplomatic communication between India and Pakistan on the issue of consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Also read | Jadhav: India Rejects Pakistan’s Friday Offer, Asks For ‘Unimpeded’ Consular Access

India had asked for “unimpeded” consular access, which was taken to mean that it asked for conversations between Indian officials and Jadhav to be entirely private and confidential. Pakistan has, however, insisted that the meeting should be as “per Pakistani laws,” which was in turn taken to mean that Islamabad was indicating that their official(s) would be present during the meeting.

“We are in talks. If there are any developments, we will tell you. I am not going to use this forum for negotiation,” Kumar said.