India has done well to demand that Islamabad withdraw the stamp it released recently to honour Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday tore into Pakistan over terrorism. This wasn’t unexpected: practically every year for 20 years, India and Pakistan exchanged hostile language at the UN General Assembly. Generally, for India, the focus is terrorism from Pakistan. But this year there’s another reason: key elections in India are nearing.
Thus, even a tentative move toward breaking the ice with Pakistan wasn’t really on. But the government goofed up in accepting a meeting between the two foreign ministers at the UNGA session after Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging this. Later, it had to pull back, but some of the reasons cited don’t appear to stand up.
The Burhan Wani stamp was issued by Pakistan in late July, and yet the Modi government gave a positive response to Mr Khan’s letter in September. The abduction and killing of three special police officers, a reason Ms Swaraj cited in her UN address for not going ahead with the meeting with the Pakistani minister, is a part of a process we have seen in J&K over some time. It should not have caused any extra surprise in New Delhi.
The fundamental problem with the government’s handling of Pakistan is its mishandling of Kashmir. Nevertheless, Ms Swaraj was right to note that the UN convention on terror, proposed by India in the mid-1990, has not been passed as it’s the United States, which speaks loudly against terror and routinely castigates Pakistan, has refused to even define “terrorism”. And the US is India’s critical ally these days.