South Asia

India, Pakistan blame each other for frosty ties after SCO meeting

India and Pakistan each blamed the other for their frosty relations on Friday and reiterated entrenched diplomatic positions on issues such as Kashmir and terrorism, suggesting no thaw in ties is likely anytime soon.

The foreign ministers of the nuclear-armed rivals spoke bitterly at separate press conferences after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) regional bloc in the Indian coastal state of Goa.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told journalists that India’s decision to scrap the special status of the disputed region of Kashmir in 2019 had undermined the environment for holding talks between the neighbors.

At his press conference, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar laid into Pakistan, accusing the neighboring country of ‘committing acts of terrorism’.

He also stated Kashmir’s special status was “history” and suggested Pakistan-backed terrorists in the state.

Both countries claim Kashmir in full but rule only part of it, and they have fought two of their three wars over control of the Himalayan region.

India has for years accused Pakistan of helping Islamist militants who have battled Indian security forces in its part of Kashmir since the late 1980s.

Pakistan denies the accusation and says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for Kashmiris seeking self-determination.

The special status given to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked in 2019 when New Delhi split it into two federally controlled territories. Pakistan calls the moves illegal and wants them rolled back.

India’s 2019 decision led the two countries to downgrade their diplomatic ties in tit-for-tat moves.

On his bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Jaishankar reiterated that there was an “abnormal” position in border areas and that work needs to be done to take the disengagement process forward.

Relations between the nuclear-armed Asian giants have deteriorated since mid-2020 when Chinese and Indian troops clashed on their disputed Himalayan frontier and 24 people were killed.

The situation has largely calmed after military and diplomatic talks, but the faceoff continues in pockets along the 3,800 kilometers frontier.