New Delhi: Amid the caustic exchanges between India and Pakistan a day after their foreign ministers met, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Friday said that Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi`s critical remarks about External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had come as "a real surprise" for India.
In an interview to a private channel, Rao said that Krishna did not back Qureshi in the latter’s criticism of India`s Home Secretary GK Pillai.
"At no point during the talks, by no means the External Affairs Minister (Krishna) expressed agreement with Foreign Minister (Mahmood) Qureshi`s opinion" on Pillai`s comments, said Rao.
The foreign secretary further described the concerns raised by Pillai as valid.
"We are definitely concerned about the role of state actors in terrorism," she said.
Earlier this week, Pillai had told a daily that David Headley`s questioning had confirmed "ISI had a much more significant role to play in Mumbai attacks... ISI was literally controlling and coordinating the attacks from the beginning till the end."
Expressing unhappiness about Pakistan’s attempts to equate Home Secretary GK Pillai’s statement on ISI link to 26/11 to the anti-India hate speeches made by JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, Krishna said, “Where is the question of comparison between these two statements. Saeed is a person who had been speaking out of turn against India. He has been trying for jehad against India, and we have always said that such people in Pakistan who incite anti-India propaganda will not help smoothen our relationship.”
“Mr Pillai is supposed to have made a statement to a particular newspaper, and it contains whatever we have known from the interrogation of David Headley by FBI in the US”, adding, “We have access to Headley, so there is no comparison between the two.”
Asked why Krishna did not rebut Qureshi`s claim at the press conference, Rao said there were a "huge number" of journalists and in the "pell-mell of to-and-fro queries", it "may have just happened that the EAM did not react."
Rao, while talking to TV channels, said Krishna gave "absolutely" no indication that he had the same opinion as Qureshi on Pillai.
`Indo-Pak talks not collapsed`
Rao further stressed that the India-Pakistan talks had not "collapsed" and the dialogue process between them "must go on".
Rao told another private news channel, "The comments (by Qureshi) came as a surprise, there was no real reason for the comments."
Qureshi at a press conference in Islamabad took potshots at Krishna and launched a broadside against India`s what he called "selective focus on terror". He even said the "Indian foreign minister received foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting".
Rao also said that the "dialogue process must go on”, adding "yesterday`s meeting has not ended in collapse", referring to Thursday`s marathon talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan.
Asked how she maintained that the talks had not collapsed, Rao said that both sides had held talks, but did not make any announcements. "We did talk but did not announce anything."
Asked if there had been expectations from the talks, she said: "There were some expectations, and we have a clear set of doables. Pakistan came to the talks with slightly different expectations. They wanted the entire spectrum discussed. We are not against resumption of dialogue, it has to start in a graduated way."
Rao said India was very clear on "how the process should go forward". "It is for Pakistan to introspect", adding "we need to be dispassionate".
(With Agencies’ inputs)