Nirupama Subramanian

Krishna calls up Qureshi; Pakistan Minister raises “jingoistic statements”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed the need to restart the composite dialogue process during a telephone conversation with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna on Wednesday.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said Mr. Krishna called Mr. Qureshi to greet him on the new year. The telephone conversation between the two Ministers took place as the U.S. special envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, began a three-day visit to Pakistan.

Mr. Qureshi is said to have told Mr. Krishna that Pakistan wanted a “co-operative relationship” with India, and flagged “how useful the composite dialogue process had been in achieving incremental progress” towards resolving bilateral issues.

Updating Mr. Krishna on the 26/11 trial being conducted here, the Pakistan Minister is said to have conveyed that the government and the people of Pakistan were “determined to eliminate this menace once and for all,” and that the country was doing its best to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice.

According to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, the two leaders agreed that the recent visit of Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza to India was a positive development.

Mr. Qureshi suggested the revival of the dormant India-Pakistan Parliamentary Forum as soon as possible, and referring to Pakistan’s recent unilateral decision to release 100 Indian fishermen, also underscored the need to convene the bilateral Judicial Committee on Prisoners so that it could fulfil its mandate.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister is also said to have raised the issue of the recent statements by the Indian Army Chief, which caused quite a stir in this country. He is said to have told Mr. Krishna that “such jingoistic statements were uncalled for and served only to vitiate the bilateral atmosphere.”

General Kapoor’s reported remarks about the need for the Indian Army to be prepared for a two-front war continue to remain a bone of contention in Pakistan. His statements seemed to be the focus of a meeting on Wednesday of Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA), a mainly military organisation that controls the country’s nuclear weapons.

The NCA met for the first time under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani after President Asif Ali Zardari handed it to him after relinquishing the position last year.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said the NCA took “serious note of recent Indian statements about capability to conduct conventional military strikes under a nuclear umbrella. Such irresponsible statements reflected a hegemonic mindset, oblivious of dangerous implications of adventurism in a nuclearised context.”

The meeting is reported to have observed that “instead of responding positively to Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia, India continues to pursue an ambitious militarisation programme and offensive military doctrines.”

The NCA is also said to have observed that the India-specific exemption made by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and subsequent nuclear fuel supply agreements with several countries would enable India to produce substantial quantities of fissile material for nuclear weapons by freeing up its domestic resources.

26/11 trial

New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:

India requested Pakistan to keep it informed of the progress of the trial of those accused of masterminding the Mumbai terror attacks.

Mr. Krishna, during the telephonic conversation with Mr. Qureshi, wanted India kept posted of the investigations into the leads New Delhi had provided in several dossiers.

The Ministers reviewed the status of the trial in Pakistan of the accused and proclaimed offenders, said an External Affairs Ministry statement.

Mr. Krishna underscored the need for bringing the perpetrators to justice expeditiously, and pointed out that Pakistan needed to take effective steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil which “continues to be used for anti-India activities.”

Release of fishermen

The Minister thanked the Pakistan government for the recent release of 100 Indian fishermen and expressed the hope that over 500 others, and more than 400 fishing boats still in custody would also be released soon. India had released 31 Pakistani fishermen and would soon free 19 others whose nationality had been confirmed by Pakistan.

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