Miliband Equates Kashmir With Terror From Pakistan

15 January 2009
The Times of India


New Delhi: By all counts, British foreign secretary David Miliband failed to strike the right chords in India. Capping a couple of days of publicly rejecting India's contentions on terrorism from Pakistan and showing his political preferences among Indian political parties on the eve of general elections, Miliband on Thursday crossed the ultimate threshold of insensitivity, by equating the Kashmir issue with terrorism from Pakistan. Writing an article in a British daily, Miliband said resolution of the longstanding issue between India and Pakistan would help deny extremists in the region 'one of their main calls to arms'. 'Although I understand the current difficulties, resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders,' Miliband said. Expectedly, he got slammed by the foreign office. In a strongly worded reaction, MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said, 'Foreign secretary Miliband is entitled to his views which are clearly his own and evolving. India is a free country and even if we do not share his views, he is free to express them. However, we do not need unsolicited advice on internal matters of India like J&K.' The comment came after Miliband refused to acknowledge that there could be official support for the Mumbai attacks from Pakistan and then rejected India's demand that the perpetrators should be tried here, advocating that they should be tried in Pakistan, in what was seen by the government as a public snub to India. Senior government sources said it was astonishing that Miliband exhibited such complete ignorance of the Kashmir issue as well as the ideology of terrorism that drives Islamist terrorists in Pakistan to attack India, with support from state agencies. Miliband's trip comes after his PM Gordon Brown's visit to Pakistan where he declared that three-fourths of terror attacks being investigated in the UK originated within Pakistan. Miliband also angered the principal Opposition party, BJP, by travelling with Rahul Gandhi on a constituency visit to Amethi on Wednesday. In a statement on Thursday, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy criticised him, saying, 'It seems he has preferred to ignore the political realities, and the desirability of his visit to Amethi at this point of time is certainly questionable.'