Pak Miffed At Krishna Remark18 February 2010
New Delhi: Expressing grave concerns over External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s remarks about next week’s Foreign Secretary-level talks in New Delhi, Pakistan has asked India to clarify its stand on the issue. In a statement, Pakistan Foreign Office has insisted that the outcome of the meeting should not be prejudged nor its scope circumscribed. “We have noted with concern remarks attributed by the media to Indian External Affairs Minister on the forthcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in New Delhi that these will be unifocal and that there would be no resumption of Composite Dialogue. This is contrary to our understanding,” the Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement here. He said that “a clarification is being sought on this account.” The reaction from the Pakistan came a day after Foreign Minister S M Krishna made it clear that India was not in favour of resumption of the composite dialogue process with Pakistan till there is progress on Islamabad’s promises on anti-terror front. Speaking to a TV news channel, Krishna said, “The composite dialogue has been suspended for very good reason, the issues raised after the Mumbai attacks still remain and need to be addressed with high degree of seriousness.” He however made it clear that India is not averse to talking out issues with Pakistan provided terrorism remains the focal point of the deliberations. “We are willing to discuss all of Pak’s concerns but terror would be the focus of talks,” Krishna said. India and Pakistan are scheduled to hold Foreign Secretary level talks on February 25 in New Delhi. Krishna’s assertion on the way forward comes after the Union Cabinet made it clear that India will go ahead with the talks, despite the Pune blast, but also pointed out that the dialogue process would be conditional till there is concrete action against terrorism emanating from Pak soil. On the other hand, Pakistan says it wants “meaningful and result-oriented” talks with India, including the resumption of the stalled composite dialogue process.” Pakistan has also been harping about the centrality of the Kashmir issue in the Indo-Pak dialogue. PTI ADDS FROM NEW DELHI ‘NO BREAKTHROUGH EXPECTED’ Meanwhile, officials on Thursday said that no breakthrough or solutions to complicated issues were expected from the forthcoming foreign secretary level talks. “Future course of the dialogue would depend on what Pakistan does to address India’s concerns. It had been saying much but doing little. There is no breakthrough expected as far as complicated issues are concerned,” officials said. They said there would be more rounds of discussions at the Foreign Secretaries-level or whether these would be elevated to political level hinges on Pakistan’s response. India is likely to put before Pakistan a set of specific demands. Expectations from the talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to be held here on February 25 are “realistic”, officials said. “New Delhi would seek voice samples of seven Lashkar-e- Toiba operatives accused in the Mumbai attacks to match them with telephonic intercepts recorded by Indian security agencies during the attack by attackers on November 26, 2008,” they said. Voice samples of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu Al Qama, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Younus Anjum and Jamil Ahmed, all of them chargesheeted in a Pakistani court, would be sought by the Indian side during the parleys. Violence emanating from Pakistani soil would be India’s focus at the talks, with the sources emphasising that the blasts in Pune had only sharpened that focus. Ahead of the talks, India has conveyed to Islamabad that its Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement would not create a conducive atmosphere for the discussions. Qureshi had said it was not Pakistan which had knelt before India for the sake of talks which were being held at India’s request. The starting point for India’s set of demands would be the Mumbai attacks and its links to elements in Pakistan, the sources said, adding New Delhi would see whether cases filed against some Pakistani nationals in this regard would be carried forward. India is clear that the talks are not a resumption of the composite dialogue, which Pakistan wants, but there is a willingness here to discuss what the Pakistani delegation would bring to the table. Islamabad has been emphasising that it would raise Kashmir, Balochistan and river waters. Sources emphasised that talking to Pakistan was only a part of a “bigger strategy” in dealing with that country where there had been a steady weakening of the civilian government and strengthening of the army during the past year.