The overseas ministers of India and Pakistan have been supposed to fulfill this week on the sidelines of the UN Basic Meeting in New York.
The assembly was agreed greater than every week in the past, elevating hopes of motion in direction of a extra cordial relationship between the 2 nuclear-armed foes, and presumably even contemporary peace talks.
In spite of everything, the neighbours hadn’t met at such a senior degree since 2014.
However inside 24 hours, the briefly open door was slammed shut when India referred to as off the assembly. Pakistan’s “evil agenda” had been uncovered and “the true face” of latest Prime Minister Imran Khan had been “revealed to the world”, a spokesman mentioned.
Why? Effectively, a part of the explanation was a set of stamps.
What do the stamps present?
The stamps carry 20 completely different pictures of what Pakistan calls “atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
They embrace pictures of victims of alleged chemical weapons, pellet weapons, “faux police encounters” and “braid chopping”, scenes of basic abuse and photos of Kashmiri protests.
One stamp carries an image of Burhan Wani, a preferred Kashmiri militant chief killed in 2016, and describes him as a “freedom icon”.
Wani, who was linked to the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, was killed in a gunfight with Indian forces in 2016.
His loss of life sparked widespread protests within the area that also proceed.
One other stamp exhibits a Kashmiri protester, Farooq Ahmed Dar, tied to the entrance bumper of a navy jeep purportedly as a “human protect” in opposition to stone-throwing and gun-firing protesters.
A line in Urdu textual content operating down the left facet of the stamps reads: “Kashmir will turn into Pakistan.”
This contrasts with a 1960 commemorative stamp which confirmed a Pakistani map, with Kashmir proven in a distinct color and a extra impartial textual content line saying: “Jammu & Kashmir; Remaining Standing Not But Decided.”
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the Himalayan Muslim-majority territory, which each declare in full however management partially. India accuses Pakistan of harbouring and supporting cross-border militants who’re lively in Indian-administered Kashmir – an allegation Pakistan denies.
What has been the response?
India cited the problem of stamps as one in every of two explanation why it referred to as off the assembly on the UN.
The opposite was the killing of an Indian border guard and three Kashmiri policemen by suspected militants.
In a press release, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of Exterior Affairs mentioned: “The most recent brutal killings of our safety personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the current launch of a collection of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism affirm that Pakistan is not going to mend its methods.”
Pakistan’s International Workplace responded on the identical day, saying: “By falsely elevating the canard of terrorism, India can neither cover its unspeakable crimes in opposition to the Kashmiri folks nor can it delegitimise their indigenous wrestle for his or her inalienable proper to self dedication.”
The assembly was proposed by Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan and was agreed to by India.
The “normalisation” course of between the 2 international locations, began in 2010, broke down in 2014 as a result of elevated militant assaults in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Who commissioned the stamps?
A prime official of Pakistan Publish, who spoke on the situation of anonymity, instructed the BBC that anybody may suggest a commemorative postal stamp.
“As soon as it’s cleared by Pakistan Publish, it must be authorized by the communications ministry, and likewise by the overseas ministry if it has a bearing on Pakistan’s overseas relations. The ultimate approval is given by the prime minister’s workplace.”
However he was reluctant to establish the supply of this specific concept.
Curiously, although, as Pakistan Publish officers admit, the thought was floated and carried out throughout the caretaker authorities, which took cost of day-to-day affairs of the state forward of the election which Mr Khan’s PTI get together gained.
The stamps have been issued on 24 July, a day forward of the overall elections, and a few 25 days earlier than the brand new prime minister was sworn in. Observers speculate that the thought should have come from state establishments with a hawkish stand on relations with India.
The 2 elected governments since 2008 have each pushed for normalisation of ties with India. Each have come beneath stress both immediately from the navy or from political teams suspected of getting assist from the navy intelligence community.
The final authorities of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fell out with the navy over its alleged assist for militant networks working in India and Afghanistan, as was revealed by a report within the Daybreak newspaper. Sharif was ousted in what was seen by many as an unfair trial, described by some as a part of a “creeping coup in opposition to democracy”.
The navy has additionally been blamed for “managing” the July elections. It denies all these accusations however critics say its enormous enterprise and monetary pursuits hinge on portray India as a mortal enemy.
They are saying the stamps have been issued at a time when the navy dominated the political scene.
How have the stamps been promoting?
Philatelists in Pakistan say the Kashmir commemoration postage stamps have bought nicely abroad, with one sheet of 20 stamps promoting for almost $6.
In Islamabad, a Pakistan Publish official mentioned they’d bought greater than 300 sheets in current days on the official charge of about $1.30 apiece.
Solely 20,000 sheets have been issued, most of which have already bought out, after the spat over the stamps hit the headlines.