Sharif-Modi Meeting in US Unlikely

Indian and Pakistani prime ministers will be in New York next week for the UN General Assembly but a bilateral meeting between the two leaders “is not on the cards”, diplomatic sources told Media. 

US officials, who are urging both India and Pakistan to resolve their differences peacefully, also did not show much enthusiasm when asked at a recent briefing if Washington would try to persuade their prime ministers to meet in New York next week.

Sharif-Modi meeting
Sharif-Modi Meeting in US Unlikely

“These are issues for the two to resolve together, and that’s what we continue to encourage, a resumption of dialogue between the leaders of both India and Pakistan,” said US State Department spokesman John Kirby.  But diplomatic sources told Dawn that despite its reluctance to get publicly involved in India-Pakistan disputes, the United States was “actively involved” in reducing tensions between the two nuclear neighbors. According to these sources, the US and other permanent members of the UN Security Councils are urging both Indian and Pakistani leaders not to be confrontational in their addresses to the General Assembly. India would also like Pakistan not to raise the Kashmir issue but there is an understanding in Washington that no Pakistani leader can afford to do so. “Kashmir is very important it has to be discussed,” said a senior Pakistani diplomat when asked if the PM would raise the Kashmir issue in his address. 

Apparently, the Indians also realise that due to the current tensions along the LOC, Pakistan is likely to raise the Kashmir issue “more forcefully than ever before in the recent past”, as a diplomatic source said. Reports in the Indian media indicate that this is one of the reasons that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not addressing the 70th UN General Assembly. Although Mr Modi may address a summit meeting on sustainable development on Sept 26, he would let his Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to represent India at the General Assembly. Reports in the Indian media quoted officials in New Delhi as saying that since alphabetically India comes before Pakistan, Mr Modi would have addressed the UNGA before PM Nawaz Sharif. This would have deprived Mr Modi to respond to the issues Mr Sharif is expected to raise in his speech. But as foreign minister, Ms Swaraj would speak after Sharif and thus would be able to respond to Mr Sharif’s remarks.