New Delhi: A day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi blamed India for the “last-minute hitch” in talks, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday sought continuation of India-Pakistan dialogue.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telephoned me, said Gilani, adding that we want to ponder over all issues.
On Thursday, Qureshi said India appeared to be unwilling to commit to a roadmap for future engagement and made it clear that the dialogue cannot move forward if Kashmir is not discussed.
“If we focus more only on those issues which India gives importance to and ignore those considered important by Pakistan, then I don’t think the talks can move forward,” Qureshi told reporters, a day after his meeting with his Indian counterpart SM Krishna.
“Kashmir has been part of our negotiations. It is a disputed territory. It is not possible to delink Kashmir from the negotiations,” he said. He said it would not make sense to discuss aspects like cultural and trade relations while ignoring “core” issues like Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security and Siachen.
“We understand their concerns and want to address those. But there are concerns of Pakistan which they (India) should address,” he said.
Refusing to get into a war-of-words with his Pakistani counterpart, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Friday opted for measured approach to the insinuations from Islamabad that yesterday’s (Thursday) 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.”