Congress, BJP lash out at Miliband for Kashmir remarks (Lead, Combining earlier stories)

January 16th, 2009 - 10:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Setting aside their political differences, the ruling Congress and the chief opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lashed out at British Foreign Secretary David Miliband for his remarks linking terrorism with the Kashmir issue. While the Congress termed it Britain’s “double standards”, the BJP described Miliband’s visit to India as a “diplomatic disaster” and his remarks “pro-Pakistan”.

The BJP also questioned the Congress-led government’s “political will to fight terrorism” and demanded an all-party meeting on the issue.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Britain should not adopt double standards. “Miliband should not have linked the Mumbai terror attacks with the Kashmir issue. Did the British link the London terror attacks with Iraq,” he asked.

The BJP expressed surprise that Miliband “spoke in Pakistan’s language” from Indian soil.

“His visit was pro-Pakistan and pro-Rahul (Gandhi). Miliband by his utterances endorsed Islamabad’s stance on the Mumbai attack and that too from the Indian soil,” BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley told reporters here.

“Miliband spoke in the same language as (former Pakistan president) Musharraf used to,” he said.

The British Foreign Secretary had triggered controversy by linking the Mumbai attack with the unresolved Kashmir issue in an article Thursday in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

He wrote that the “war on terror” was “misleading and mistaken” because it failed to take into account the different motives of various terror groups.

The BJP wondered if the government was serious about tackling terrorism and demanded an all-party meeting on the issue.

Jaitley expressed surprise that the British foreign secretary visited Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency for two days and then made such statements.

The BJP leader wondered how India was now willing to let Pakistan investigate and try the perpetrators of the heinous attack.

“The president of that country entrusted the inquiry into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto to Scotland Yard for it cannot trust its own agencies. How can we let such a country have the last word on Mumbai?” Jaitley asked.

He was referring to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement to a TV channel Thursday that if it was not possible for Pakistan to hand over the fugitives to India “there should at least be a fair trial in Pakistan”.

However, on Friday, Mukherjee said the “perpetrators must face Indian justice”.

But the BJP would not take this. Its spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told IANS: “Even after this clarification, the weakness of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) is visible because of their lack of political will.”

He earlier demanded in a statement that the Congress-led UPA government “must convene an all-party meeting to discussion its dealings with Pakistan”.

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