India-Pakistan UNGA meeting cancelled: The inside 'story' of the overnight U-turn

Markandey Katju
Markandey KatjuSep 23, 2018 | 11:47

India-Pakistan UNGA meeting cancelled: The inside 'story' of the overnight U-turn

Modi scratches his head, then says,

On Thursday, September 20, the Indian government announced that the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers would meet in New York and hold talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The next day, Friday, the proposed talks were abruptly called off.

What happened?

Here is an 'account':

September 20.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan talks on telephone to Prime Minister Modi and says: 


Hello Ji, Modi Ji. Can you hear me? (Photo: Agency)

"Modiji, thank you for congratulating me on becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I want peace and good relations between our countries. I suggest our foreign ministers meet in New York where both are going for the UN General Assembly session, and discuss issues of mutual concerns there."

Yes, I can hear you. (And understand you very well). (Photo: Reuters)

Modi (Aside): This Smart Alec wants to pull a fast one on me by showing his 'peaceful designs' to the whole world. If I don't accept his proposal, he will tell the whole world that while he wants peace, I don’t. But I will show him who can outsmart whom. I will tell Sushma to go, but will ask her to tell Qureshi right at the beginning of their meeting in New York that terrorism and talks can't go on together. So, Pakistan has to first stop inciting and instigating terrorism in Kashmir and arrest Hafiz Saeed and other terrorists, etc., before there can be any talks. And I will tell her that immediately after this meeting (which should last only a minute or so), she should hold a press conference announcing the same thing, adding that 9/11 happened right here. That way the world will see that while we want peace, Pakistan wants terrorism.


Modi to Imran: Excellent idea, Prime Minister. I agree, and my foreign ministry will announce the proposed meeting of the foreign ministers immediately.

Modi telephones Raveesh Kumar, a relatively middle-ranking officer in the Indian Foreign Service, and the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, and orders him to make the announcement immediately, which he does.

On hearing the announcement, officials of Pakistan's foreign ministry rush to Imran Khan's house in glee and congratulate him. "Kaptaan" they say, "That was an unplayable Yorker that you bowled. Now we have the bounder where we wanted him."

He tried to bowl us a Yorker. (Photo: YouTube)

Later, the same night a group of senior IFS officers barge into Modi's bedroom and tell him, "Prime Minister, have you gone bananas? How could you order such an announcement without even consulting us? Now you have ruined years of our hard work!"

The meeting had MEA in a spin. (Photo: PTI file)

Modi: But what wrong did I do?

An IFS official: Don't you understand even now? By your goof-up, we have fallen into a trap. It was the UN resolution of 1948 calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir which Nehru accepted. Now Qureshi will tell Sushma that since she is in New York and near the UN, India should honour its agreement for a plebiscite, and he will add that a recent UN report has indicted India for human rights violations in Kashmir. The international community will support him.


Modi scratches his head, then says, "What should we do now?"

IFS official: Make another announcement early morning tomorrow calling off the proposed meeting.

Modi: Ok. One of you take down this statement to be issued tomorrow morning: The Indian government has just learnt that Imran Khan is a very wicked man — which was not known to us till last evening when we agreed to a meeting of our foreign ministers. Now that it is known, the meeting is called off.

IFS official: Prime Minster, we can't use such language. It has to be in civilised, sophisticated and diplomatic language.

Modi: Then, what should it be?

IFS official: I have come prepared with a draft:

"Now it is obvious that behind its proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed, and the true face of the new Prime Minister of Pakistan has been revealed to the world. Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless."

Modi: Very well. Issue that statement first thing in the morning.

But finally, he got stumped. (Photo: Reuters)

The next day, the announcement is made — and Pakistan condemns India for not wanting peace.

While India blamed the 'brutal killing' of some members of its security forces by 'Pak-based entities' and 'glorification of terrorists' for cancelling the talks, the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: "All my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture". 

"A small man called a small man a small man."

Last updated: September 23, 2018 | 12:02
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