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'Pakistan has not given up claim on Jinnah house'
October 06, 2005 21:19 IST
Pakistan on Thursday said it has not given up its "claim" on the Jinnah House in Mumbai and wanted the Indian government to hand it over to Islamabad to reopen its consulate in Mumbai as people of the country have "sentimental attachment" with that place.
Denying a report in the local daily in Islamabad on Thursday that the India-Pak agreement to reopen the consulates in Karachi and Mumbai in January, 2006 was made possible after Islamabad dropped its demand on the Jinnah House, Pakistan's new spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said that the country has not given up its "claim" on the Jinnah House.
"The Spokesperson clarified that Pakistan has not given up its claim over the Jinnah House. The people of Pakistan have sentimental attachment with the Jinnah House," said a brief statement from Aslam who took over charge from Naeem Khan, who has been appointed as Ambassador to Philippines. The statement, however, was silent on External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh's remarks during his visit to Karachi on Wednesday that the consulates would be opened by January.
Local daily The Nation reported on Thursday that the agreement to re-open the consulates which were closed after the riots following the demolition of Babri Masjid was made possible after Pakistan dropped its long-standing demand regarding Jinnah House.
The paper said that while diplomatic efforts would be made to acquire the building, Islamabad had dropped the demand that its consulate should be located in it. It said Pakistan's decision led to the agreement to re-open the consulates, a claim refuted by Aslam.
The Jinnah House issue figured in the joint press conference by Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid M Kasuri at the end of the external affairs minister's visit to Islamabad on October 4. Asked whether India would hand over Jinnah House to Pakistan, Singh said, "We have made it into a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation cultural centre."
Referring to reports that Pakistan had expressed its apprehension over the renovation programme undertaken by the Indian government of the building costing about two million dollars, he said "I know there have been some misgivings in Pakistan about what is happening to the (Jinnah) house. "Let me assure you that the sentiments and emotions of Pakistan are very much in our mind that are no structural changes inside and outside. We are just repairing the place which is out of use."
It has been clarified by India that Pakistan has opted to take a prime property shown to it by Maharastra government to construct its Consulate building. Also Pakistan would take a building on lease in Mumbai to temporarily locate its Consulate until the building was ready.