India on Monday hit out at Pakistan for making an "unwarranted" reference to Jammu and Kashmir at the United Nations, asserting that the state was an integral part of the country.
In an apparent reference to remarks by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on J&K at the UN General Assembly last week, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said India's principled position on the issue has been consistent and is well known.
Krishna also asserted that people of J and K have "reaffirmed" their destiny repeatedly through India's "well-established democratic processes."
"An unwarranted reference has been made to Jammu and Kashmir from this podium. Our principled position on the issue has been consistent and is well known," Krishna said in his address to the UN General Assembly.
"The people of Jammu and Kashmir have chosen and reaffirmed their destiny repeatedly through India's well established democratic processes. We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India," he said.
Zardari in his address to the UN General Assembly last week raked up the issue of Kashmir, saying that "Kashmir remains a symbol of failures, rather than strengths of the UN system."
In his address, Krishna said India has embarked on a resumed dialogue process with Pakistan and advocates a "step-by-step" approach to normalizing their bilateral relations.
Zardari had said that the resolution of the issue of Kashmir can only be arrived at in an "environment of cooperation."
"We will continue to support the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council's long-standing resolutions on this matter," the Pakistan president had said.
Krishna said that within South Asia, India has sought to enhance bilateral relations individually with each of its neighbours and through the aegis of the SAARC.
"India desires constructive and friendly relations with all its neighbours. We have a vision of a peaceful, stable and prosperous region with enhanced cooperation and connectivity linking us with Central Asia, the Gulf and South-East Asia," he added.
Krishna also voiced concern over the "continuing existence of safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorists" beyond Afghanistan's borders, which he said "is the major impediment to the restoration of peace and security in Afghanistan."
He said India remains ready to partner with Afghanistan in its path towards a peaceful and stable nation.
"India supports the government and people of Afghanistan in their endeavour to build a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous country. We are ready to partner with the Afghan people as they rebuild their country in accordance with their own priorities and national circumstances".
Krishna said India is committed to creating an enabling environment where the Afghan people can live in peace and security and decide their future themselves, without outside interference, coercion and intimidation.
Photo credit: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com