A day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called up All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to brief him on his government’s “efforts… to highlight” the Kashmir issue, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood that such actions are a “direct interference” in India’s internal affairs.
After summoning Pakistan’s envoy at 10.30 pm Wednesday to his South Block office, Gokhale told Mahmood that New Delhi expects Pakistan to “desist” from such actions and “cautioned that (the) persistence of such behaviour… will have implications”.
During the 10-minute meeting, an official statement by the MEA said, the Foreign Secretary conveyed the government’s “condemnation in the strongest terms of this latest brazen attempt by Pakistan to subvert India’s unity and to violate our sovereignty and territorial integrity, by none other than the Pakistan Foreign Minister”.
Gokhale told Mahmood that this “deplorable act has violated all norms for the conduct of international relations even by Pakistan’s own standards”.
“The Pakistan Foreign Minister’s actions are tantamount to direct interference in the internal affairs of its neighbour. Foreign Secretary underscored that by this action Pakistan has confirmed yet again that it officially abets and encourages individuals associated with terrorism and anti-India activities,” the MEA statement said.
“It has exposed to the entire international community Pakistan’s duplicity in professing their desire for normal relations with India on the one hand, while openly inciting anti-India activities on the other,” it said.
The statement said that the Pakistan High Commissioner was categorically informed by the Foreign Secretary that the government expects Pakistan to desist forthwith from such actions. It reiterated the government’s position that Jammu and Kashmir have been, is and shall remain an integral part of India, and that Pakistan has no locus standi in matters related to it.
Qureshi’s call was seen as an “extremely unusual” step for a top Pakistan government face, especially since the NDA government has drawn a red line on meetings between visiting Pakistan representatives and Hurriyat leaders over the last four-and-half years.
According to Mirwaiz, Qureshi spoke of involving world capitals in highlighting the Kashmir issue, and told him that “Prime Minister Imran Khan tried his best to reach out to the Government of India but unfortunately there was no response”.