India warns Pakistan of ‘consequences’ over Qureshi-Mirwaiz phone call row
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India warns Pakistan of ‘consequences’ over Qureshi-Mirwaiz phone call row

The Indian government was angered by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s phone conversation with Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Tuesday.

world Updated: Jan 31, 2019 20:05 IST
India,Pakistan,Hurriyat
The Indian government was angered by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s phone conversation with Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

A diplomatic row between India and Pakistan over the Pakistani foreign minister’s outreach to Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on the Kashmir issue escalated on Thursday, with New Delhi saying such actions would have “consequences”.

The Indian government was angered by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s phone conversation with Farooq on Tuesday, which centred around two events being organised in London during February 4-5 to highlight alleged rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. People familiar with the development said this amounted to “crossing a red line”.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar made it clear at a news briefing that India wouldn’t back down on the issue as Qureshi’s actions had confirmed Pakistan “officially abets and encourages individuals associated with terrorism and anti-India activities”.

“We categorically mentioned that if such actions by Pakistan, which undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, are repeated, it will have consequences,” he said, referring to the summoning of Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood by foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale on Wednesday to lodge a strong protest.

Kumar declined to give details of the potential consequences. He reiterated that Qureshi’s actions reflected the “duplicity” of the Pakistan government’s approach, with some sections talking of peace with India while others take actions that are “completely anti-India”.

At the same time, India took up with the British government a seminar to be held at the parliament complex on a recent report by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir and an exhibition on Kashmir during February 4-5. The Pakistani foreign minister is expected to attend both events.

Kumar said: “The UK is aware about our sensitivities in the matter. As a friendly country and a strategic partner, we hope the UK government will address our concerns on the proposed conference, which very clearly is intended to undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.”

People at the UK Foreign Office familiar with the developments said Qureshi was travelling to London to attend several private events, and there were no plans for meetings with the UK government during his visit and that he was not a guest of the government. They added the UK’s position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the Kashmiri people’s wishes.

These people noted that British MPs function independently of the government and were free to decide whom they meet. They added that several private events are organised by campaign groups, and people in the UK have the right to demonstrate their views, provided they act within the law.

Following protracted discussions at senior levels of the Indian government, Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood was summoned by the foreign secretary at 10.30 pm on Wednesday. The external affairs ministry described Qureshi’s contact with Farooq as a “brazen attempt” to “subvert India’s unity”.

Islamabad responded on Thursday when foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned Indian envoy Ajay Bisaria to protest against the summoning of the Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi. Janjua said Pakistan will continue extending support to the Kashmiri people.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said: “Kashmir is a disputed territory. The Indian government’s move to summon the Pakistani high commissioner is an attempt to influence the upcoming elections...If you wish to contest your elections, don’t involve us in them.”

(with inputs from Imtiaz Ahmad in Islamabad)

First Published: Jan 31, 2019 20:03 IST