Miliband’s Kashmir remarks upset India

17 January 2009
The Dawn


New Delhi: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s trip to India, billed as a ‘solidarity visit’ following the deadly Mumbai attacks, was dubbed ‘upsetting’ by the government on Saturday. Miliband raised Indian hackles by linking the Kashmir dispute to the Mumbai attacks and because of what government sources called his ‘aggressive style’ during his three-day visit which ended on Friday. “There is no linkage between Kashmir and the terror India has been facing emanating from Pakistan... The bureaucracy in the British foreign office should have educated him (Miliband) a little bit on the facts,” ruling Congress party spokesman Manish Tiwari told reporters. Miliband’s “aggressive style, the tone and manner in which he conducted himself during talks with the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) and the foreign minister (Pranab Mukherjee) were also upsetting,” a government source told AFP on Saturday. A report in the Hindu newspaper quoted a senior foreign ministry official as dismissing Miliband, who is 43, as “a young man”. “I guess this is the way he thinks diplomacy is conducted,” the unidentified official said. The Hindu quoted another Indian official as saying the two government meetings with Miliband were “pretty awful”. Even when Miliband was in India, the government made its displeasure known. “We do not need unsolicited advice on internal issues in India like Kashmir,” said foreign office spokesman Vishnu Prakash. Another Indian official called the foreign ministry criticism of Miliband ‘unprecedented’, saying it was the first time New Delhi “had ticked off a government minister from a UN Security Council member country while the visit was ongoing”.