Pakistan needs to wake up and smell the coffee: that was New Delhi’s advice to Islamabad 48 hours after transforming the narrative on Kashmir. But our neighbour wasn’t listening, suspending the Thar Express, which connects Khokrapar in Sindh with Munabao in Rajasthan’s Barmer district.
In an earlier avatar, the train was known as the Sind Mail that operated between Karachi and Mumbai in undivided India. Not any longer, as Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad rather dramatically announced on Friday that “As long as I am railways minister, no train will operate between Pakistan and India.” Earlier, the operation of the Samjhauta Express had also been suspended.
Pakistan’s action underscored the diplomatic offensive it had launched on Kashmir. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi air-dashed to Beijing along with Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood (until recently high commissioner to India), in a bid to seek “Iron Brother’s” aid and advice, as Qureshi put it.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Pakistan was nervous, urging Islamabad to avoid “creating an alarming picture of the bilateral relationship”. He also hoped that Islamabad would reconsider the decision to downgrade ties.
To questions from journalists on Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s remarks ón Article 370, his government’s decision to approach the UN claiming the Security Council resolutions on J&K had been violated and questioning the manner of the state’s reorganisation, Kumar stuck to the statement issued yesterday that the reordering of J&K would bring development and good governance.
“Pakistan is nervous as welfare measures will nullify their justification for cross-border terrorism. They will not be able to incite separatist activities. They will not be able to support terrorism. They will not be able to mislead people,” he said.
Kumar indicated that India had no interest in escalating matters, saying “we’ll see what steps are to be taken” with regard to Pakistan seeking to internationalise India’s action.
He dismissed concerns that Kulbhushan Jadhav getting consular access could suffer a setback in the present circumstances. “We’ve sought unimpeded consular access… we’re talking to them through diplomatic channels,” Kumar said.
The footnote is that Ajay Bisaria, India’s high commissioner to Pakistan, is yet to reach India since his expulsion by Islamabad and downgrading of relations.