Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have, in a joint statement, criticised the Government for not being able to defend its diplomats abroad.

They were referring to the treatment meted out to Indian Visa Counsellor in Pakistan Deepak Kaul. He was handcuffed and blindfolded "in clear violation of international norms" and declared persona non grata.

The leaders the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee; Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani and two former External Affairs Ministers, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha said this incident was "a clear proof that Pakistan has upped its ante" and "has no use for the peace process." Pakistan was once again "on the road to confrontation."

Mumbai blasts cited

They connected to this the recent Mumbai blasts and the Government's "inability" to get Pakistan honour its commitment in the January 6, 2004 joint statement in Islamabad.

Instead of putting Pakistan on the defensive after the blasts, it had "demanded" evidence of Islamabad's hand in the blasts, the leaders noted.

While condemning the neighbouring country's behaviour, the BJP leaders sought to criticise the Government for its "soft approach" to Pakistan and cross-border terrorism.