New Delhi: Refusing to get into a war-of-words with his Pakistani counterpart, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna Friday opted for measured approach to the insinuations from Islamabad that yesterday’s talks had all but failed, saying that some headway has indeed been made in the relationship between the two countries.
Speaking to reporters on arrival after a three-day visit to the Pakistani capital, Krishna gave a matured response to the callous, if not derogatory, remarks made by Qureshi earlier in the day in Islamabad.
Rejecting Pakistan’s claim that the Indian delegation was not prepared and did not have the mandate for meaningful talks, Krishna said, “There was no ambiguity. As External Affairs Minister
leading this delegation, I have confined myself to the mandate
given to me and I am quite satisfied.”
Krishna refuted Qureshi`s claim that Indian delegation
was not mentally prepared for the talks. "I was fully
prepared," he said.
Krishna also categorically rejected the charge made by his Pakistani counterpart that he received foreign policy directions from New Delhi
repeatedly during their meeting, he said, “I was totally cut off from India, I never used the telephone, it’s an extraordinary statement, that I have made calls to India.”
As if giving some lessons on diplomacy to Qureshi, Krishna quipped, “It is a fact that Foreign Ministers are in touch with the base…in touch with the political leadership, but the mandate that as given to me was so precise that I did not need any additional instructions from Delhi.”
Secretary Nirupama Rao also said, "At no point during the talks, by no means the External
Affairs Minister (Krishna) expressed agreement with
Foreign Minister (Mahmood) Qureshi`s opinion."
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 TV channels, said Krishna gave
"absolutely" no indication that he had the same opinion as
Qureshi on Pillai.
On Pakistan’s charge that India was shying away from a timeline for normalising the relationship, Krishna in a measured response said, “In diplomatic parleys we don’t go by a timeline unless it is absolutely necessary. No one could fix a timeline for the type of issues we discussed. The question of timeline was not possible or feasible.”
“With reference to 26/11, we did not insist on a timeline. We told that terror is the biggest obstacle between the two countries. Positive action has to be taken by the Pakistani leadership against the perpetrators of the act,’ he added.
"As long as this is not met, all other efforts would
be futile. Hence, it is in the interest of this particular
relationship, if it has to be strengthened, then positive,
focused action will have to be taken by the leadership of
Pakistan in tackling those perpetrators of these heinous
crimes in Mumbai," he said.
On a question as to whether the talks were successful, Krishna said, “The very fact that I went to Islamabad and I talked about core issues in our relationship...if you consider
it as a gain, I am ready to along with it.”
“We talked about the burning issues that confront us. All this was discussed in great detail. We contributed in manner that the trust deficit gets reduced,” he said.
Trying to impart dignity to the job of a Foreign Minister, especially in view of the uncalled for rant by his Pakistani counterpart, Krishna said, ‘I am not going to score debating points over Qureshi. I would like to concentrate on serious issues. The fact of the matter is that we did discuss serious issues that confront both of us and I do believe that we did make some headway.”
“I have invited him to come to India and I am looking to resume the dialogue from where we left it yesterday,” he added.
Asked whether back-channel diplomacy would be
preferred in the light of stalemate in talks, he said that it
is something that will have to be evaluated.