Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The BJP on Friday demanded that the government clarify on a statement made by the former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, that India and Pakistan were close to arriving at an agreement to resolve the Kashmir issue.

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said Mr. Kasuri had talked about a near-agreement on withdrawal of Indian troops from the Siachen, on the contentious Sir Creek question and even on Kashmir. He said the party had no problem if backchannel diplomacy was used to resolve contentious issues, but “the country should have been taken into confidence.”

He was asked why the BJP-led governments with Vajpayee at the helm between 1998 and 2004 did not take the country into confidence on the former External Affair Minister Jaswant Singh’s many rounds of negotiations with the U.S. and even on the reasons for failure of the Agra Summit.

Mr. Javadekar said that in the case of the Agra Summit differences had arisen because Pakistan insisted on treating infiltrators coming into Kashmir from Pakistan as “freedom fighters” while India saw them as terrorists.

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