With talks set for Monday between India and Pakistan called off, the blame game is in full swing. Newspapers in both countries spilled a lot of ink on the vitriolic back-and-forth between New Delhi and Islamabad and tried to predict what would happen next.
India’s Amar Ujala, a Hindi-language daily newspaper, said Pakistan’s stubbornness had derailed the planned meeting between the two countries’ national security advisors.
The paper pointed to a joint statement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, when they agreed to the talks in July, saying the two sides would discuss terrorism. “If Pakistan had an objection, it should not have signed the joint statement,” the paper wrote.
“Pakistan took India’s sovereignty too casually,” said another editorial in Navbharat Times, one of the most-widely read Hindi dailies, referring to a Pakistani demand that its security advisor be allowed to meet separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir ahead of the talks. “Now it can’t expect India to show respect.”
Some in India’s English-language press took a milder tone.
The Times of India, India’s most widely circulated English-language daily described the cancelation of talks as a “temporary setback.” In an editorial, it described the days before the talks were finally called off as a “prolonged game of chicken to see who blinks first.”
“There’s a more than even chance Pakistan will seek to escalate tensions on the so-far quiet northern stretches of the Line of Control,” said the Indian Express in an editorial published Monday referring to the border which divides India-and Pakistan-held Kashmir. The paper advised both countries of the need for “maturity and self-reflection” which it said was “little in evidence this past week.”
On the other side of the border, some in the Pakistani media held India accountable for the failure of the talks.
In an editorial, Dawn, one of Pakistan’s biggest newspapers, said the Indian government’s anger against “a fairly innocuous and standard meeting” between Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists was a sign of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “true intentions.”
“He does not really want dialogue with Pakistan, but does not want to be seen rejecting talks outright in front of the international community,” Dawn said.
In Pakistan’s the Nation, an editorial said Pakistan’s decision to pull out of the talks mean it was “finally taking a stand” against India. “Enough is enough,” it said.
India was “not ready to settle” and Pakistan was now quitting its “good cop routine,” something the paper said Monday was the “right move.”
“India will make sure to repackage the situation as Pakistan refusing to talk, rather than India reneging on its promises. As the bigger country, as the more globally popular country, India will get away with that,” the paper concluded.
The Nawa-i-Waqt, a prominent national Urdu-language daily, said in an editorial Sunday that “from day one, it has been India’s policy to indicate its willingness to talk to Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir to deceive the world, but whenever the time nears for talks at any level, it makes some excuse to sabotage them.”