Shehbaz govt didn’t receive message of felicitation from Indian PM Modi on Pakistan’s 76th Independence Day Monday

ISLAMABAD: In a first during peacetime, India and Pakistan did not exchange formal greetings on their respective independence days.

The Shehbaz Sharif government did not receive a message of felicitation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Pakistan’s 76th Independence Day on Monday, the last day of Shehbaz Sharif as PM. On the same day Anwarul Haq Kakar took over as PM. On Tuesday, India’s Independence Day, Kakar also opted to not send India salutations regarding independence.

Another diplomatic courtesy was also given a miss by the Indian prime minister — that of greeting a head of government who assumes office. Kakar has had his second day in government and there has been no message from New Delhi. The Foreign Office here hasn’t offered any comment regarding these new ‘trends’ in the diplomatic relations of the two countries, which have been worsened by the incumbent Indian leadership. The Foreign Office has however confirmed that no greetings were exchanged by Pakistan and India on the occasion of their Independence Days. Relations between the two countries have been sour mainly due to the constant belligerent attitude of India’s leaderships but have worsened even more ever since the BJP’s Narendra Modi came to power nine years ago. Modi subverted Saarc by scuttling its summit that was to be held in Pakistan in November 2016; India also continued to promote terror activities on Pakistan soil. Indian spy-cum-terrorist Kalbhuhshan Jadhav is glaring evidence of India’s interventionist role in Pakistan; Jadhav was caught red-handed in Pakistan as an Indian spy.

In August 2019, New Delhi annexed Occupied Kashmir and merged it into the Indian Union, doing away with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which is an internationally recognized disputed territory between Pakistan and India. The dispute is still pending on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. In February 2019, India initiated blatant aggression against Pakistani territory but the armed forces of Pakistan shot down the intruding Indian warplanes and captured one of the Indian pilots Abhinadan Varthaman.

Pakistan reduced diplomatic relations with India in the wake of the events of 2019, and since then the two countries have charge d’affaires looking after their respective missions after the expulsion of each other’s envoys in Islamabad and New Delhi. The number of diplomatic staff has also been reduced by the two countries.

Pakistan has recently designated Aizaz Khan as its charge d’affaires in its New Delhi high commission after Salman Sharif’s return to Islamabad. India is also reportedly changing its charge d’affaires as Apoorva Srivastava could replace Suresh Kumar who was posted in Islamabad in December 2020.

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad held a ceremony to commemorate its Independence Day on Tuesday morning but no Pakistani guest was invited. The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi too hosted a limited reception but the Indian government hindered Kashmiri leaders from joining it. Diplomatic observers are of the view that for the Indian general elections next year Modi’s BJP will contest the polls on an anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim agenda. In the midst of all this, the scope for any improvement of relations is minimal for the time being — at least till the polls are held in India.

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