Congress to back PM’s diplomatic initiative on Pak

In a bid to calm the controversy over the Indo-Pak statement signed in Egypt, the Congress top brass has decided to robustly support PM`s diplomatic initiative on Pakistan.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In a bid to calm the controversy over the India-Pakistan statement signed in Egypt, the Congress top brass on Friday night decided to robustly support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s diplomatic initiative on Pakistan and counter Opposition.

The meeting was held at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and attended by Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister AK Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Gandhi`s political secretary Ahmed Patel, among others.

The over two-hour long meeting of the Congress Core Group came in the backdrop of the unease in the party over the joint statement.

There was no official word about the deliberations at the crucial meeting.

A senior leader who did not want to be named said the meeting was "routine" but did not specify what issues were discussed.

Several Congress leaders, including some senior ministers, appear to be having serious reservations over the formulation of the joint statement, especially delinking action on terror with the composite dialogue and the reference to Balochistan.

Yesterday, the Congress party described the Bharatiya Janata Party`s (BJP) opposition to the India-Pakistan statement as trying to extract political mileage from the issue.

Refuting the BJP`s allegation that the inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement amounted to conceding that India was responsible for problems in the Pakistan province, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said, "This is completely wrong. In fact we want a peaceful neighbourhood. BJP is trying to make political mileage by opposing the joint statement and making such allegations."

Ahmed added that a final view on the statement would be explained by the official government spokesperson.

The joint statement was signed after Manmohan Singh met Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh last week.

"Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on the threat in Balochistan and other areas," the document states.

It was the first time that Balochistan has been referred to in any joint declaration by the two countries.