In an attempt to end a controversy over his purported remarks about his Indian counterpart, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he never called Manmohan Singh a “village woman.”
Mr. Sharif also denied charges that Pakistan was sponsoring terrorism in India, saying his country was itself a victim of the menace.
Just a day before the two Prime Ministers met on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sunday, a Pakistani TV talk show host claimed Mr. Sharif had described Mr. Singh as a “dehati aurat” (village woman) during an informal chat over breakfast with journalists.
The talk show host withdrew his remarks after an Indian journalist, who too was present at the interaction, said Mr. Sharif had made no such remarks.
Mr. Sharif told the media in London that he never called Mr. Singh a “village woman”, Pakistani dailies reported on Tuesday. He said he was satisfied with the outcome of his meeting with Mr. Singh.
He said external forces were involved in terrorism inside Pakistan and “far from being a sponsor, Pakistan was actually a victim of a foreign-funded well organised wave of terrorism.”
During his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and in his speech at the UN General Assembly, Mr. Singh had referred to Pakistan as the “epicentre of terrorism.”
Mr. Sharif said he had discussed with Mr. Singh “all important issues”, including Kashmir, sharing of river waters, Siachen, Sir Creek and Balochistan.
Asked about “jingoistic language used by Indian politicians and media” for his meeting with Mr. Singh, Mr. Sharif said he believed that “dialogue was the only way forward to achieve peace and stability in the region.”
Mr. Sharif said: “We need to be sagacious and realistic about peace in the South Asian region. Some of the most hotly contested issues in the world were settled through talks. If we don’t sit down and talk through things, then we can’t resolve our issues. There is poverty and backwardness in India and Pakistan, both countries face so many issues. It’s in the interest of India and Pakistan to maintain peace and negotiate with each other for peace.”
Mr. Sharif refused to comment when asked for his views on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s purported statements against the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence. He said he was not aware that Mr. Khurshid had made any allegations.
Reluctant to condemn the Taliban and other jihadi groups, Mr. Sharif said the Taliban had announced that they were not behind a recent bomb attack in Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani Bazar that killed over 40 people.
“When the Taliban disown the attacks, the mind is naturally compelled to think that there are external forces at work to destabilise Pakistan,” he said.
“We need to find out who these hidden hands are and who is behind them.”