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Krishna refutes Qureshi's claim, says was not on phone

Foreign Minister SM Krishna has refuted his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi's allegation that he constantly received directions from New Delhi over the phone during their talks. India not ready for talks: Pak | Talks stumble | Areas of discord | Pics | Listen to podcast

india Updated: Jul 17, 2010 08:23 IST

Foreign Minister SM Krishna refuted his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi's allegation that he constantly received directions from New Delhi over the phone during their talks.

A visibly surprised Krishna, who like Qureshi also has a foreign law degree, himself said the dig by his counterpart was an "extraordinary statement to make" and asserted he did not take a call from anyone during the seven-hour parleys.

The External Affairs Minister said he was "totally cut-off" from India and never used the telephone.

"I have not talked to anybody. The mandate given to me was so precise, so clear, that it does not need any additional instructions from Delhi," he said.

But, he maintained, that even if he had used the telephone, in diplomacy it was not wrong to keep in touch with the base.

"Foreign Ministers are always in touch with their base, with the political leadership and governmental leadership. There is nothing wrong even if something has happened on these lines," he said.

Taking a dig at Krishna earlier in the day, Qureshi said that he did not step out of the talks to "attend any phone calls", but the "Indian Foreign Minister received foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting".

"I led Pakistan's team and I didn't need to make even a single phone call (to Pakistan leaders) during the day-long talks. Krishna is the principal for giving direction to foreign policy (but) why were directions being sent repeatedly from Delhi?".

"Who is the top foreign policy adviser for India?", Qureshi asked.

Qureshi's provocative remark also drew scorn and condemnation in the country.

Qureshi's public comment, which appeared to question Krishna's authority, was also criticised for breach of protocol after he added another tense dimension to Thursday's talks which was billed as an initiative to build trust between the two neighbouring countries.

Senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said Qureshi does not deserve to be the foreign minister, not even a second secretary in the diplomatic mission, hours after the Pakistani minister's taunt against Krishna.

"It was a breach of protocol," he said.

Qureshi's remark came a day after he attacked Home Secretary G K Pillai a tense final press conference between the ministers last night.

One posting in the blogosphere said "Shah Mehmood Qureshi needs some classes in diplomacy."

"Just because he was upset at being outclassed yesterday, he vented like this today," the blog said referring to Qureshi's jibe at Krishna at Friday's news conference.

Prem Shankar Jha, a political commentator, turned the tables on Qureshi saying that in Pakistan the civilian administration gets instructions from the Army.

Krishna, on his arrival from Islamabad, set the record straight describing Qureshi's remarks as "extraordinary" while countering the Pakistani leader's claim that he was constantly on telephone line with New Delhi during talks.