Islamabad: A former director-general of Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has said that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi`s recent statement equating remarks between Indian Home Secretary GK Pillai and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed will only vitiate political temperatures in the subcontinent and exasperate popular sentiment in either country.
Hamid Gul, who was the ISI chief from 1987 to 1989, said: “I think that that was not necessary nor for Mr Pillai to come out with this (his statement on the ISI being involved in the 26/11 attack) from beginning to end on the eve of the (foreign minister-level) talks, and, nor for our foreign minister (Qureshi) to have gone to the extent to say this (equating statements between Saeed and Pillai), because, I think, it is only going exasperate already flared up sentiments.”
"I think we need to douse the fires of aggression. But, I think where the sticking point is that’s on Kashmir. We have got to get this ghost of Kashmir out of the system,” Gul added.
Gul`s view came a couple of days after Foreign Minister Qureshi, while responding to a question from an India journalist, said that both sides should not let the climate of engagement be vitiated by speeches made by either Hafiz Saeed or GKPillai, and that both should refrain from negative propaganda against each other.
Qureshi, however, took potshots at Indian officialdom.
He said: “When you point out to Saeed’s speech, or speeches, let me draw your attention to the Indian Home Secretary’s (GK Pillai) statement. The dialogue which was reported in all Pakistani papers. Tell me, to what extent it has helped? We were of the opinion that it was uncalled for,” suggesting that Foreign Minister Krishna agreed with him.
In effect, Qureshi sought to equate Indian Home Secretary GK Pillai, a veteran civil administrator with nearly four decades of experience with Saeed, a man with alleged, if not certain, terrorist links and antecedents.
It maybe recalled that Pillai had cited the information provided by accused Lashkar-e-Toiba recruit David C Headley regarding the involvement of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) -- and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed in the 26/11 attack during his interrogation in Chicago by FBI and Indian investigators.
Pakistan said it was disappointed with Pillai’s remarks and its timing, as it was delivered on the eve of the foreign minister-level talks.
On Friday, Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna delivered a measured and mature rebuttal to Qureshi’s attempt to make a comparison between the statements made by Saeed and Pillai.
Addressing an impromptu news conference soon after arriving in Delhi from Islamabad, Krishna said there was no question of making a comparison between the two.
“Where is the comparison? Hafiz Saeed – He is a person speaking out of turn against India, crying for jihad against India. We have always said that such people inside Pakistan, who incite anti-India propaganda, anti-India statements and feelings, will not help to smoothen ties between our two countries,” said Krishna responding to questions on his return to Delhi from a three-day visit to the Pakistan capital.
Commenting on statements made by Mr Pillai, Krishna said his statement was not anything new, and was already in the public domain. Pillai’s statement was based on revelations made by David Coleman Headley, one of the prime movers behind the 26/11 attacks, during his interrogation by FBI investigators.
“There is absolutely no comparison between the two,” he added.