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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Krishna ticks off Pillai, says comparison with Saeed ridiculous

New Delhi :External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Wednesday ticked off Home Secretary G.K. Pillai for his comments, on the eve of the July 15 talks with Pakistan, about the ISI's role in the Mumbai terror attack but stressed that comparing Pillai and Hafiz Saeed, the suspected 26/11 mastermind, was 'most ridiculous'.
Krishna was also critical of his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi's abrasive style in his interaction with the media and for raking up the issue of India's alleged role in fomenting insurgency in resource-rich Balochistan province after their talks in Islamabad. He also stressed on the need for civility in diplomacy.

'Pillai could have waited till I came back to issue a statement. Perhaps it would have been wiser if that statement had not been made just on the eve of my visit,' Krishna said in an interview to CNN-IBN, the first time he has made public his displeasure with Pillai after the India-Pakistan talks deadlocked on the issue of terror.

In a separate interview to NDTV, Krishna denied any differences between his ministry and the home ministry.

'There is total understanding between the home ministry and the external affairs ministry. The home secretary conveyed the truth what (Pakistani American David) Headly (who helped in plotting the Mumbai attack) told us...I have absolutely no problem with that. The only question was the timing.

Asked what Headley had revealed, Krishna said: 'It is classified information. I don't want to divulge that.

The minister told CNN-IBN: 'When two foreign ministers are meeting after the Mumbai attack, there was a special significance for this meeting,' he said. 'Everyone who was privy to whatever was happening in government of India ought to have known that the right kind of atmosphere from India's side should have been created for the talks to go on in a very normal manner, but unfortunately this episode (Pillai's remarks) happened,' he added.

'Well, I have had some discussions with the prime minister,' Krishna replied, when asked if he had conveyed his dissatisfaction over the timing of Pillai's remarks to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On the eve of the talks, Pillai said in an interaction with the Indian Express that Headley's interrogation had revealed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was involved in planning the Mumbai carnage 'from beginning to end'.

Krishna's admonition of Pillai comes a day after the home ministry appointed a spokesperson to interact with the media and amid speculation that the US was unhappy with the way India went public with Headley's disclosures.

After his talks with Krishna July 15, Qureshi had said at a joint press conference that the remarks by Pillai were 'uncalled for' and unhelpful in normalising bilateral relations.

Qureshi said this in response to a journalist who asked him about the anti-India statements of Hafiz Saeed and what Pakistan was doing to curb them.

In the interview to NDTV, Krishna, described the indirect comparison by Qureshi of Pillai to Saeed as 'ridiculous.'

When asked why he kept quiet when Qureshi said that the two foreign ministers agreed Pillai's remarks were uncalled for, Krishna said it would have been unbecoming to respond.

'The atmosphere was charged. The point Qureshi was trying to make - to draw a comparison between Hafiz Saeed and Home Secretary Pillai was most ridiculous.'

'Saeed talks of jihad against India... Home Secretary Pillai is one of our most upright was so ridiculous I didn't feel like responding,' he said.

'I felt that it was unbecoming on my part to talk in those talk in those terms of comparison,' he added.

Krishna, however, added that although Pillai's remarks were ill-timed, they did not impact the talks with Pakistan. Krishna stressed that the talks with Qureshi were 'by and large useful' and that they helped reduce the trust deficit between the two countries. He also said that there was 'no rancour' between Qureshi and him during the talks or the press conference that followed.

'The talks were by and large useful and helped us to understand each others point of view on various issues,' Krishna maintained.

Krishna also criticized Qureshi's style of diplomacy and for raking up India's alleged role in Balochistan.

'We should understand the spirit of Thimphu and the spirit of Thimphu was to make earnest effort to bring about reconciliation between two countries and I do not want that spirit to be eroded even by a remotest possible way,' he said.

'I think we can put forward any contention that a country can face in a most forceful way but there has to be dignity, there has to be civility and civility is certainly no weakness,' he added.

Before Krishna left Islamabad July 16, Qureshi attacked India for 'selectively' focusing on terror and sidelining what he said were other vital bilateral issues like Jammu and Kashmir. Krishna said the issue of Balochistan never figured in the discussions and asserted that India had no reason to destabilize Pakistan. (IANS)

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