India halts engagements with Pakistan

Jadhav conviction: Meeting to discuss Indus Waters Treaty put off

India halts engagements with Pakistan

India has put on hold all its engagements with Pakistan after the neighbouring country awarded the death sentence to former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.

New Delhi has postponed a proposed meeting between the chiefs of the Indian Coast Guard and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, which was scheduled to be held in the capital on Monday. India has also decided against holding a meeting with Pakistan in Washington DC — scheduled towards the end of this month — to discuss the Indus Waters Treaty.

The death sentence awarded to Jadhav has also cast a shadow on the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart in the neighbouring country M Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit at Astana (the capital of Kazakhstan) in June.

Islamabad on Monday announced that a military court had convicted Jadhav of working for India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analytical Wing (RAW) as well as being involved in “espionage and sabotage” to destabilise Pakistan. His death sentence had been confirmed by Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A fuming New Delhi reacted by putting on hold a pre-scheduled release and repatriation of about a dozen Pakistanis incarcerated in Indian prisons.

Though relations between New Delhi and Islamabad hit a new low in 2016 after terrorists from Pakistan carried out a series of attacks in India, both sides had been quietly moving towards creating a situation conducive for restarting a stalled dialogue.

Islamabad of late placed LeT founder Hafiz Saeed under detention and designated him a terrorist under its Anti-Terrorism Act.

Both countries released and repatriated a large number of each other’s citizens from jails.

Islamabad returned an Indian Army soldier, who had inadvertently crossed over to territories under control of Pakistan in September last year. India and Pakistan also recently held a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission – a mechanism New Delhi had initially decided not to take part in after the attack on an Indian Army camp in north Kashmir’s Uri in September 2016.

Sources, however, said the death sentence awarded to Jadhav has put a spanner on all such de-escalating efforts.

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