PM blames Qureshi for talks breakdown (Lead)

July 29th, 2010 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Breaking his silence on the recent talks between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday blamed Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for mishandling the press conference and hoped that the two countries will be able to restore dialogue sooner than later.
With British Prime Minister David Cameron backing his stance on terrorism, Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan to tackle terrorism on the Indian border with the same seriousness as it has done on its western border (to eliminate anti-West Taliban).

“I think the way the press conference was handled at the end of the visit by the foreign minister of Pakistan could, I think, have been avoided, because it detracts from a large element of agreements reached between the two foreign ministers,” Manmohan Singh said at a joint press conference with Cameron.

“We are too close to the events to pass a judgment on the recent meeting,” he said.

Against the widely held view that the talks failed to achieve much, Manmohan Singh stressed that there “was an agreement on a large number of issues that have a bearing on the relationship”.

“I sincerely hope that the invitation extended to Pakistan’s foreign minister will be taken and we will be able to restore dialogue sooner rather than later and give it a sense of purpose,” he said.

He was responding to a question on his assessment of the July 15 talks between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Qureshi in Islamabad July 15 that ended in mutual recriminations over issues like terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir.

When asked a question on Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of 26/11, Qureshi singled out India’s Home Secretary G.K. Pillai for his comments about the role of Pakistani spy agency ISI in the Mumbai terror, and attempted to equate the Indian bureaucrat with known anti-India ideologue Hafiz Saeed.

Days after an online whistle blower exposed the double game of Pakistan’s ISI in anti-India activities in Afghanistan, Manmohan Singh reminded Pakistan to honour its oft-reiterated pledge not to allow its territory to be used for terror activities against India.

“Pakistan should be as serious about tackling terror on the eastern border as it is on its western border,” he said.

“No case is good enough to justify resort to terrorism. I sincerely believe the world community should use its good offices to promote this cause,” he said with the British prime minister sitting by his side.

Stressing that he has no option but to speak frankly, Cameron asked Pakistan to eliminate terrorism from the region and underlined it needed to do more to crackdown and eliminate terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operating from its territory.

“It is not acceptable that there should be within Pakistan existence of terror groups that cause terrorism not just within Pakistan, but also in other places in the world,” Cameron said at the press conference.

In Bangalore, Cameron said Wednesday that Pakistan should stop “export of terror”, which has led to a furious reaction from Islamabad. On Thursday, he stood by those remarks, saying: “I believe in speaking clearly and plainly about such matters.”

He said that they will “continue to work with Pakistan government to encourage them to crack down and take on these terror groups”. Cameron specifically mentioned the LeT, which India accuses of being behind the 26/11 Mumbai attack, as being part of the terror groups operating in Pakistan.

He noted that Britain will “continue to work with Pakistan to see that it does everything to crack down and eliminate groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Quetta Shura, Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban”.

“We should be fair to the Pakistan government that it has taken up steps to combat terrorism,” Cameron added, noting that terrorism also affected Pakistan.

“But we need to go on so that we can reduce the threats of terrorism whether here in India, Afghanistan or on the streets of London,” he said.

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