New Delhi strikes back

New Delhi strikes back

A day after Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi virtually equated Pillai and Saeed; External Affairs Minister S M Krishna rebuffed his counterpart’s attempts to put in the same bracket the remarks of Indian Home Secretary and the anti-India hate-speeches of the chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) – a front of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiiba (LeT). Krishna said that there could be no question of comparison between the words of Pillai and Saeed.

Qureshi caused a flutter by stating that Pillai’s remark about the direct role of the Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai had not contributed to the efforts to build trust between the two countries. The Pakistani Foreign Minister also said that he and Krishna were in agreement that such remarks were uncalled for.

Qureshi made the remark in a joint news conference with Krishna after the talks on Thursday. He was responding to a query if the Pakistan would take any step to stop Saeed from spewing venom against India.

Qureshi’s statement evoked sharp reactions in India, with both the ruling Congress and opposition BJP strongly condemning it. The BJP also criticised Krishna for not defending Pillai or contradicting Qureshi during the press conference in Islamabad.

“Hafiz Saeed is a person who has been speaking out of turn against India. He has been crying for jihad against India and we have always said that such people in Pakistan, who incite hostile and anti-India propaganda will not smoothen the relation,” Krishna told reporters after his return to New Delhi on Friday.

He said the statement made by Pillai on the ISI’s role in the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai was based on the revelations of incarcerated Pakistani-American terror-plotter David Coleman Headley to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and India’s National Investigating Agency.

Highly-placed sources in New Delhi said that Krishna had never been in agreement with Qureshi’s opinion on the statement of Pillai. “He (Qureshi) should not have put Pillai and Saeed in the same bracket. It was preposterous,” said a senior official.

Pillai had made the remark just a day before Krishna landed in Islamabad for talks with Qureshi, triggering speculations if there had been a disconnect between the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi as it had been well anticipated that the statement could vitiate the atmosphere before the parleys. But Krishna too had told journalists immediately after his arrival in Islamabad that he would expect some feedback from Qureshi on the actions taken by the Pakistan in its investigations into the 26/11 probe in the light of revelations by Headley.