How Indian and Pakistani media interpreted Jaishankar's response to Islamabad's offer of talks

The violence in Kashmir has instigated a protracted and bitter dispute between India and Pakistan. While Pakistan calls Hizbul Mujahideen chief Burhan Wani a “martyr” and condemn the human rights “violations” in Kashmir, India has asked its neighbour to stay clear of its territory. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had on a previous occasion said that Pakistan has no “locus standi” on the issue.

File image of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. PTI

File image of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. PTI

Pakistan had invited India for talks on Kashmir at various points since the unrest in the state began. India has however, been very clear on its stand.

Pakistan sent two letters in a week inviting India for talks on the Kashmir dispute. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar welcomed talks on “cross-border terrorism” and the status of “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” before indulging in a discussion on the Kashmir violence, LiveMint reported.

Swarup said on Thursday that Jaishankar reiterated India’s stand that Pakistan should vacate PoK in the second response letter handed by Indian high commissioner Gautam Bambawale to Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Wednesday.

According to reports, Chaudhary’s second invite was dated 19 August and asked Jaishankar to “discuss the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, with a view to finding a fair and just solution, as per the United Nations Security Council resolutions and aspirations” of the people of the state.

While accepting the invite by Chaudhary, India had conveyed that it "rejects the self-serving allegations (of Pakistan) over Jammu and Kashmir in totality" and asserted that the northern state is an integral part of India "where Pakistan has no locus standi".

It is interesting to note that while the Indian media focussed on Jaishankar’s proposal to talk about cross border terrorism and PoK, Pakistani newspapers termed India’s stand only as a refusal to talk over the Kashmir issue. They completely overlooked Jaishankar's willingness to discuss issues other than the ensuing violence in the volatile state.

Reports in popular Indian media newspapers and websites quoted Swarup and some senior government officials who are exploring ways to compel Pakistan to cut back its support to terror groups.

Let’s look at some headlines and content produced by major Indian dailies.

The Indian Express

“In late night letter to Pakistan, India says it will only talk terror”

“Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has written to his Pakistani counterpart, calling for talks on cross-border terrorism, describing it as a threat to regional security. The letter, delivered to Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Wednesday night, also proposes a dialogue on the status of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. Pakistan had written to India on August 15, calling for a dialogue on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and humanitarian issues related to the violence there.”

The Economic Times

“Let us talk PoK, terror: S Jaishankar to Pakistan foreign secretary”

“India has hardened its stand on Pakistan's proposal for a Kashmir-centric dialogue as foreign secretary S Jaishankar, in his letter to his Pakistani counterpart, not only made terror as the basis of the proposed dialogue but also called for a discussion on the earliest possible vacation of Pakistan's illegal occupation of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.”

The Times of India

“India talks tough with Pakistan, says willing to discuss terror"

“Replying to his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry's fresh invitation of 19 August to visit Islamabad by the end of this month to discuss Kashmir dispute, foreign secretary S Jaishankar said in a letter he was willing to discuss terrorism emanating from Pakistan's territory which was India's core concern.”

And, finally Firstpost

“Foreign Secretary-level talks: Ball is in Pakistan's court, says India"

“India on Thursday said the ball was in Pakistan's court on holding Foreign Secretary-level talks as it was for Islamabad to decide on readiness to discuss issues of cross-border terrorism, vacation of illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir and closing down terror camps.

In a response to his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry's offer for talks on Kashmir, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said discussions should focus on cessation of terrorist activities in J&K and ending incitement to violence and terror in the Valley.”

It is interesting to note that every news article published by an Indian media channel focussed on Jaishankar’s stand to hold talks on terrorism coming from Pakistan and the stand on PoK.

On the other hand, Pakistani media disregarded the PoK part of Jaishankar’s letter altogether. They only focussed on the first part of India’s response i.e. the refusal to talk on the Kashmir violence.


“India refuses talks over Kashmir issue with Pakistan”

“India on Thursday formally rejected Pakistan's proposal to hold exclusive talks on the issue of Kashmir and said it will only discuss the issue of terrorism alleged infiltration of militants with Pakistan, it has been learnt.”

The Nation

“India refuses to discuss Kashmir with Pakistan"

“Rejecting Pakistan’s offer to hold talks on Kashmir issue, India on Thursday said it will only discuss the issue of alleged infiltration of militants with Pakistan.”

The Express Tribune

"India rules out talks on Pakistan’s terms"

“India has turned down Pakistan’s offer of exclusive talks to discuss the longstanding Kashmir dispute…In a letter to Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry calling for talks on Kashmir, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has instead sought talks on alleged cross-border terrorism in the disputed Himalayan valley.”

While headlines of Indian media focussed on India’s willingness to discuss terror and PoK with Pakistan, Pakistani media’s headlines focussed on India’s refusal to talk on the Kashmir issue. It seems like our neighbour presented only partial facts in their news reports and were undoubtedly irked by India's response.

This vast difference between how Indian and Pakistani public interpret and present the same set of statements is probably the reason why the two countries have not yet been reconciled.

With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: Aug 26, 2016 16:21:44 IST

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