India rejects third party mediation on Kashmir (Lead)

September 22nd, 2010 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Rejecting Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue, India Wednesday underlined that there was no scope for third party mediation on Kashmir even as it braced to counter a likely offensive by Islamabad on the issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
“There is no scope for third party or international mediation. And this has been made clear on a number of occasions, including at the UN… There can be wishes expressed but there is no further corollary to that,” an official source said.

The sources said India will counter Pakistan’s renewed bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue if it rakes up the issue at the UNGA.

Although no bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been planned yet on the sidelines of the UNGA, Krishna’s programme is “evolving”, sources said.

The sources said that as a vibrant democracy, India has sufficient mechanisms and constitutional safeguards to address issues raised by its citizens in any part of the country.

The sharp rhetorical exchanges on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan’s call for international mediation on Kashmir has, however, soured the atmospherics ahead of a likely meeting.

Reacting to Qureshi’s comments in a speech to a think tank in the US, sources said India has firmly rejected any third party intervention and asserted that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan.

“Our position on Jammu and Kashmir is very well articulated and known to international interlocutors that it is an integral part of India…if there are any issues, they can be addressed bilaterally (by India and Pakistan),” they added.

India has strongly objected to the statements on Kashmir made by the Pakistan foreign office last week and the two houses of Pakistan parliament - National Assembly and Senate - Tuesday, alleging human rights violations there and calling for international intervention.

“They have no locus standi on what is purely an internal affair of India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said here Tuesday.

“Pakistan should tackle the issues of constitutional safeguards, democracy, extremism, terrorism and human rights violations in the part of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation,” he added.

The sources added that India won’t be surprised if Pakistan continues to rake up Kashmir at different global fora and thinks it’s part of a carefully crafted strategy to keep the spotlight on the issue at least till US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in November.

But the war of words over Kashmir has not dampened India’s desire for re-engaging Pakistan despite the failed foreign minister-level talks over two months ago.

Krishna and Qureshi are likely to meet during several multilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in the next few days.

Krishna and Qureshi are going to be present at ministerial meetings of SAARC countries, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), G-77, Commonwealth grouping, Asian Cooperation Dialogue meeting, conference on disarmament and the NAM ministerial meeting on Palestine.

With Krishna and Qureshi likely to be under the same roof on several occasions, there is a strong possibility of a bilateral meeting.

However, both sides are keen that it does not just become a photo-op and are aiming at”meaningful and substantial” bilateral talks that could set the stage for a productive visit by Qureshi to India later this year.

If it materializes, it will be the first meeting between the two ministers since the July 15 talks failed over clashing perceptions about the scope of talks and Pakistan’s insistence on a time-line for resolving complex issues like Kashmir.

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