The BJP on Friday regretted that Home Secretary G.K. Pillai was not “defended” by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna when he was “openly castigated” by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for his remarks that the ISI had coordinated Mumbai terror attacks.

The Congress on its part described as ridiculous any attempt by Pakistan to equate Mr. Pillai’s remarks with Jamaat-ud-Dawah(JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed’s anti-India hate speeches.

“The Foreign Minister of Pakistan chose to attack India’s Home Secretary. I regret he was not defended there by India’s Foreign Minister,” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, a day after Mr. Qureshi’s unexpected attack on Mr. Pillai at a joint news conference with Mr. Krishna after their talks in Islamabad.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, “The Home Secretary was simply making a statement of fact about what India’s stand has been; it is only India’s stand. I don’t think there is any basis for comparison of statements by Hafiz Saeed or Salahuddin with the Home Secretary. That would be ridiculous.”

Mr. Singhvi also noted that Mr. Krishna has not confirmed Mr. Qureshi’s remarks that both the ministers were of the opinion that Mr. Pillai’s comments on ISI’s role in 26/11 were “uncalled” for.

Mr. Prasad while offering his preliminary comments on the outcome of the Indo-Pak talks said Mr. Qureshi was making an issue out of Mr. Pillai’s statement which was nothing but a statement of LeT operative and Pakistani-American David Headley about the role of ISI in Mumbai attack. Headley has confessed to his involvement in 26/11 and is currently in FBI custody in Chicago in the U.S.

“They have no reply or content but they are comparing it (Mr. Pillai’s remarks) with Hafiz Saeed without taking any action,” Prasad said.

Mr. Qureshi when asked at the joint press conference last night at the end of the talks why Saeed was not being reined in by Pakistan from making anti-India speeches shot back: “I agree that both sides need to create an enabling environment and not let the climate of engagement be vitiated by negative propaganda.

But, I want to know to what extend did the Indian Home Secretary’s statement on the eve of this dialogue help? We both (minisers) are of the opinion that it (Mr. Pillai’s remarks) was uncalled for.”

Mr. Krishna’s silence when Mr. Pillai was attacked by the Pakistani minister has raised eyebrows.

Mr. Pillai had early this week blamed Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence(ISI) agency for “controlling and coordinating” the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 “from the beginning to the end”.

‘Call off talks’

Leader of the Opposition and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj demanded that India call off the talks with Pakistan after observing that the neighbouring country’s attitude towards yesterday’s parleys was disappointing.

“They(India) should not engage themselves in dialogue (with Pakistan),” said Ms. Swaraj, slamming Mr. Qureshi’s attitude and approach.

Another BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said Mr. Qureshi’s jibes at Mr. Krishna that he was unprepared and that he was taking telephone calls during the talks was uncouth and in violation of all norms. Mr. Sinha also said there was no point in carrying on the dialogue further.

“Qureshi does not deserve to be the foreign minister, not even a second secretary in the diplomatic mission,” Mr. Sinha, a former external affairs minister, said.

“It was a breach of protocol. I am sure he (Qureshi) would not have done so without the knowledge of the Pakistani prime minister and president,” Mr. Sinha said.

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