Indo-Pak back to bickering; Krishna hits Qureshi

India and Pakistan were back to bickering after Pakistan Foreign Minister`s "unsolicited and untenable" remarks on Kashmir that scuttled a possible bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart S M Krishna on the sidelines of the UNGA at New York.

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2010, 18:50 PM IST

New York/New Delhi: India and Pakistan
were back to bickering after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah
Mahmood Qureshi`s "unsolicited and untenable" remarks on
Kashmir that scuttled a possible bilateral meeting with his
Indian counterpart S M Krishna on the sidelines of the UN
General Assembly (UNGA) at New York.

Krishna hit back after Qureshi`s diatribe against
India at the UNGA session during which he called for an
impartial "plebiscite" under the UN auspices.

The External Affairs Minister took strong exception to
Qureshi`s remarks and said he was using "Kashmir as a ploy" to
"deflect attention" from Pakistan`s internal trouble.

"Such unsolicited and untenable remarks will not and
indeed, cannot deflect attention from the multiple problems
Pakistan needs to tackle for the common good of its people and
indeed of the entire region," Krishna said.

Both sides had given indications that the two
ministers were likely to meet on Tuesday but Qureshi`s
vociferous speech on Kashmir scuttled any such possibility.

The two sides, however, appeared to have kept alive the
possibility of resumption of the dialogue between their
Foreign Ministers, most probably in New Delhi before the end
of the year.

Krishna`s remarks that Qureshi was "most welcome to
come" to witness Commonwealth Games appeared to give an
impression that he had invited the Pakistani minister to India
during the sporting event. However, it later transpired that
no second invitation was extended to Qureshi specifically for
the Games.

Krishna, during his talks with Qureshi in Islamabad in
July, had invited the Pakistani Foreign Minister to India
which was accepted but dates have not yet been finalised but
will be worked out through diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, Qureshi, before leaving New York suggested
that India had changed its mind on the bilateral meeting
though he was ready to meet "anywhere, anytime."

"I have said that I was willing to meet them anywhere,
anytime," Qureshi told journalists before leaving for
Washington. "I have told them that I am willing to come
wherever they want me to come...So why isn’t this happening? it
is for you (reporters) to find out.. there was no lack of
interest on our part," he added.

Sources noted that the recent rhetoric by Pakistan on
Jammu and Kashmir have vitiated the atmosphere, which both
sides have been trying to improve after the directions from
their respective Prime Minister during their meeting in
Thimphu.

Qureshi`s action of raising Kashmir not just once but
several times and calling for international intervention
appears to have deeply complicated matters and did not leave
room for talks during this trip, according to the sources.

The sources said that India planned to discuss all
outstanding issues with Pakistan but New Delhi wanted
Islamabad to bridge the trust deficit and bring all the
perpetrators behind Mumbai terror attack to justice before
successful talks are possible.

PTI