India-Pak talks over: Qureshi rakes up Kashmir, slams Pillai
The press briefing after an extended dialogue between Indian & Pak Foreign Ministers indicated trust deficit remained between the two sides.
Islamabad: After a long meeting between them and a longer wait for a joint press briefing about their dialogue, Pakistan Foreign Minister raked up issues like Kashmir and slammed India’s Home Secretary, indicating that there was no forward movement on issues of India’s concerns.
Qureshi, who looked agitated throughout, harped on his country’s ‘core issue’ of Jammu & Kashmir in the presence of his Indian counterpart SM Krishna and said “Pakistan is concerned about the current situation in the state.”
He also slammed Home Secretary GK Pillai who had given a statement to a newspaper on Tuesday that Pakistan’s ISI was revealed by David Headley to be behind the Mumbai attacks.
“That was uncalled for,” he said.
Krishna responded diplomatically saying that not only J&K had a democratically elected government, there was an increase in infiltration from across LOC and Qureshi stepped in to almost shout that Pakistan did not support infiltration. “It is not our policy. Period. If there are individuals crossing the border, then the AGMs of both sides should meet and handle the situation.”
Scheduled at 7.30pm, the press conference took place over an hour later amidst reports that the two sides could not agree on a joint declaration, both the ministers offered apologies to the international media for keeping them waiting.
“Nature of discussions was such that it could not be concluded on time,” Krishna explained. He met the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari after the talks.
Qureshi said the talks were “candid, frank and honest and were useful on the whole.”
“Dialogue is the most preferred way forward towards bridging the trust deficit between India and Pakistan. There are a host of issues between us including terrorism which is a common problem,” he said.
Qureshi added that both countries were victims of terror and said they had agreed for a common approach towards this common enemy.
He also addressed India’s concerns vis-à-vis the trial of Mumbai attacks accused in Pakistan. “I discussed how we can hasten the on-going trial process of the accused,” he informed.
But he refused to give any timeline for the process, something that the Indian side was looking for.
Qureshi further said that both sides discussed the issue of J&K and the situation that has arisen there in the last few days.
“There was progress on confidence-building-measures on Kashmir and we can build upon them. These include cross LOC trade and travel etc,” he said.
Krishna told the media that he had asked Pakistan to fulfil the commitment of his PM Yousaf Raza Gilani on not letting their country’s soil to be used against India.
He said he also discussed what was revealed by Pak-American terror convict David Headley on the Mumbai attacks.
“The talks were fruitful. We have developed a better understanding of each other,” Krishna emphasised, ending with the hope that they remain ‘good neighbours’.
He revealed that Qureshi had accepted an invitation of visiting India and the talks would continue. Latter on his part rejected a question by a journalist that the talks had not led to any concrete outcome.
When a ‘Jung’ group journalist took up the ‘India interfering in Balochistan issue’, Krishna pointed out that PM Manmohan singh had asked for evidence in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt but the same had not been provided till now.
Earlier, the talks were extended by over two hours. Both Indian and Pakistani sources said the discussions were proceeding positively notwithstanding differences on some of their known positions. Krishna and Qureshi had been expected to end their interaction by afternoon and then address the press.