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India-Pak war of words hots up

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD, July 16 (IANS) - A day after their talks ended in a deadlock, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi took potshots at his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna and launched a broadside against New Delhi's alleged "selective focus on terror", triggering anger and outrage in India.

The acrimony that marked the joint interaction with the media Thursday night after the two ministers held talks turned bitter when Qureshi told Pakistani journalists in Islamabad that India was not ready for talks and Krishna was getting telephone calls from New Delhi when the discussions were going on.

Qureshi and Krishna held wide-ranging talks, but the discussions ended without a breakthrough as Pakistan brought up human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and India's insisted that Islamabad gives a time frame for completing trial of the 26/11 attackers.

"India's approach was selective. When they say all issues are on table, they should not be selective," Qureshi said even as Krishna was still in Pakistan, readying to leave for New Delhi.

"If we focus on just one issue (terrorism), it will be difficult for Pakistan to move forward," Qureshi said and accused India of being obsessed with terrorism, excluding other bilateral issues.

In New Delhi, the comments sparked outrage.

The chief Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party reacted sharply, saying India should call off the dialogue with Pakistan and lashed out at Qureshi for making insinuations against his Indian guest on Pakistani soil.

"By going to town, Qureshi broke all protocol," Yashwant Sinha told TV channels.

"Qureshi does not deserve to be the Foreign Minister, not even a second secretary in the diplomatic mission," an angry Sinha said.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj told CNN-IBN: "India should call off the dialogue."

The BJP also criticized Krishna for not defending India's Home Secretary GK Pillai when Qureshi attacked the latter for his remarks on the alleged role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the Mumbai attacks.

Qureshi slammed India for being 'inflexible'.

"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," said Qureshi.

"We understand India's concerns and want to address them. But Pakistan also has its concerns and core issues which should be understood by India," added Qureshi.

"We are ready to negotiate. We are not in a hurry. When they are ready, we are ready to discuss all issues and show flexibility," Qureshi said.

Qureshi said Pakistan was a victim of terror and its cities were repeatedly attacked by terrorists. He said Pakistan pushed for a roadmap for dialogue but the Indian side felt they did not have the mandate to commit to a roadmap.

"India was narrowing the dialogue... Indian Foreign Minister received foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting," said Qureshi.

Qureshi said that Jammu and Kashmir is a part of the negotiations with India and again reiterated charges of human rights violations and the imposition of curfew in parts of Jammu and Kashmir that created much acrimony at the joint press conference he held with Krishna Thursday night.

"Kashmir is agreed that it has been a part of our discussion. And now if you want to de-link it, it is not possible. With due respect I agree that you have a mechanism to check human rights violations there but when there are strikes, innocent people are being killed...

"I say whatever has been achieved in the last four years should not be wasted. We should build on that."

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