Brushing aside the recent stepped-up rhetoric from Pakistan, India on Friday said it was ready to discuss all issues with Islamabad, including Kashmir. “Everything that they want to discuss and everything we want to discuss with them will be discussed” during Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s possible visit to India for talks, India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said here.
According to the Hindustan Times, Krishna was reacting to questions on the recent statement by the Foreign Office that there can be no result-oriented discussions with India on Kashmir unless it stops treating it as its integral part and Qureshi’s remarks seeking US intervention on the issue.
Krishna, who is here for the UN General Assembly session, said he looked forward to playing host to Qureshi in India. “Well, I was in Islamabad and we did talk and I have invited Shah Mahmood Qureshi to come to India and he has very graciously accepted my invitation,” Krishna said. “I am looking forward to hosting him in Delhi ... the dates have to be worked out.”
Qureshi, who is also here, raised the Kashmir issue several times during the past few days, calling for international intervention. Addressing a small gathering at the Asia Society, the foreign minister described Kashmir as a “festering sore of South Asia”.
“The United States, as the world leader, has special responsibility towards finding a just and peaceful solution for Kashmir,” Qureshi said.
However, later in the day, Qureshi appeared to tone down, noting that the US could play a “facilitating role”. “I know India is allergic to third party intervention,” he said. “They (US) can play a facilitating role but ultimately ... we have to see what the Kashmiris want,” he said.
Rebuffing the attempt to involve the international community in resolving the Kashmir issue, India has categorically said there is “no scope” of third party mediation on Kashmir which is an integral part of India, reported the Hindustan Times.
Krishna, however, underlined that despite these recent remarks by the country, talks would continue. “India wants to keep Pakistan engaged in talks because we do not see any other alternatives ... talks are the only way to take this forward,” the Indian minister said.
“I think India has already reacted to whatever the foreign minister has said and I do not have to repeat it...” he said in response to a question.
At this stage, Indian diplomats have not confirmed any bilateral meeting between the two ministers here on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, but a senior diplomat from Pakistan claimed that a meeting had been cleared by both ministries and was expected to take place early next week.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2010.