New Delhi on Friday called off a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), just a day after confirming the development.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, confirming the development, cited "unclean intentions" on Pakistan's side.

"It is obvious that behind Pakistan's proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office," he said. "Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless."

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the development "unfortunate", saying: "We had already told India that if they take one step towards us, we will take two. However, it seems that they faltered after taking just one step."

Qureshi was referring to Imran Khan's victory speech last month in which the then PM-elect had expressed his desire to "improve relations with India, if their leadership also wants it".

"If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start," Khan had said.

Qureshi, while talking to DawnNewsTV, said that the world should see that "Pakistan has held a positive outlook towards the situation while India's attitude has not been so forthcoming".

When asked if Pakistan would still continue to extend an olive branch to India despite the rigid attitude shown by New Delhi, Qureshi negated the idea and said, "we said that we want dialogue — but in a dignified manner."

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, while speaking to GeoTV, said that the whole world is watching and sees what India has done.

"The world sees that we talked about peace and dialogue. They see that we are doing whatever we can for that cause. On the other hand, there are two ways to look at what India has done, one of which suggests that Indian extremist groups are sabotaging the relationship between India and Pakistan, and the Indian government is working under that same extremist mindset."

"We have been extending the hand of friendship all through, PM Khan said in his first speech that if they take one step towards us, we will take two. The prime minister invited Indian cricketers to his oath-taking. [Navjot Singh] Sidhu came for that event and look at what happened to him when he returned to India. This shows how much extremism is found in the Indian society," Chaudhry said.

He added: "This shows that Pakistan stands for peace but there is a section of the Indian society that does not want this and that section holds a lot of influence there. This, however, does not affect us as FM Qureshi is going to fly to the UNGA meeting tonight, there he has meetings lined up with the ministers of a number of countries. He will also address the UNGA meeting."

"The whole world is watching and they see Pakistan as a serious country and a country that wishes for peace. On the other hand, they also see the non-seriousness portrayed by India and that too is a victory for Pakistan and it will reflect on our position in history," the information minister concluded.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman took to Twitter to condemn the move, saying: "Shame that on #InternationalPeaceDay India has refused to talk peace with Pakistan in even a routine manner at the @UN on the sidelines of the General Assembly."

"Running from talks won’t change the fact that this time Indian repression in Kashmir has been noticed in a UN report," she added.

Diplomatic impasse

The MEA spokesperson referred to the "killing of Indian security forces" allegedly by "Pakistani entities" and Islamabad's decision to release stamps allegedly "glorifying terrorists" as the reasons behind the cancellation of talks.

Pakistan Post had issued 20 special postage stamps on July 24, according to The Nation, carrying photos of Burhan Wani and his two associates. Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri freedom fighter, was slain by Indian troops in 2016.

Although the stamps were issued on July 24, a day before the general elections were held, the issue was raised by Indian media in the last 24 hours.

A day earlier on Thursday, Raveesh Kumar had confirmed India's agreement to Pakistan's request for a meeting between Foreign Minister Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the UNGA.

The requests were made by PM Khan and Qureshi in two separate letters handed to Indian officials.

"I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between the external affairs minister and the Pakistani foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of the UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time," Kumar had said, stressing that the planned meeting should not be misconstrued as a dialogue.

"I must differentiate between meeting and a dialogue," said the Indian official. "This is a meeting and not dialogue. This is a meeting which we have agreed to, based on a request which we have got from the Pakistani side."

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