- Sushma Swaraj, Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke at SCO meet in Kyrgyztan
- "There was no meeting between them," Foreign Ministry sources said
- "Votes garnered, Pulwama martyrs forgotten": Congress's Randeep Surjewala
A day before counting of votes for the national election, the Congress tore into the government over what it called "foreign minister-level talks" with Pakistan, alleging that with the end of electoral politics, "talks with Pakistan begin".
The sharp attack came after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke during a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Bishkek in the Kyrgyz capital on Wednesday and sat next to each other during a joint call on Kyrgyz president.
Press Trust of India quoted foreign ministry sources as saying the two leaders only exchanged pleasantries. "There was no meeting between them," said the sources.
The picture of the two leaders is from a joint call on Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, they said.
Sushma Swaraj arrived in Bishkek on Tuesday to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting. Both Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mehmood Qureshi attended the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of SCO, which was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
"Electoral politics over, pro-Pakistan policy begins," tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, posting a photograph of the two leaders sitting next to each other.
"Election Over, Votes Garnered, Pulwama Martyrs Forgotten! Foreign Minister-level talks with Pakistan begin, business as usual," Mr Surjewala tweeted.
Pakistani media reported that the two leaders sat next to each other during a multilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the SCO.
India was granted the membership of the SCO along with Pakistan in 2017.
Tensions between India and Pakistan peaked after the February 14 Pulwama attack by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), in which 40 soldiers were killed.
In retaliation, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting a Jaish terror training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
The next day, the two countries engaged in an aerial combat in which an Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan. He was handed over to India on March 1. Opposition parties have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders of using the Balakot strike repeatedly in their campaign to pitch nationalism.
With inputs from PTI