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Indo-Pak war of word hots up

September 18, 2003 23:29 IST

Words are flying thick and fast between India and Pakistan.

New Delhi on Thursday night hit back at Pakistan for its caustic comments on the issue of the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri to India, which was dropped after Pakistan accused External Affair Minister Yashwant Sinha of 'discourteous' remarks.

"The Indian minister's remarks were not only discourteous but also reflected his utter contempt for South Asian cultural values, traditions of hospitality and established SAARC practice," a Pakistani spokesman had said earlier in the day.

Kasuri was reportedly coming to India to personally invite New Delhi to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Islamabad in January next year.

"We are amused at the comments of the spokesman of the Pakistan foreign ministry arrogating to himself the untenable position of giving lessons in customs, tradition, practice and hospitality," a Minister of External Affairs spokesperson said.

"There is an old saying that you cannot fool all the people all the time. At this moment, Pakistan is only fooling itself," he said.

The MEA spokesman said Sinha had pointed out that New Delhi had not received any specific proposal for Kasuri's visit.

He said Pakistan had instead sought to inform New Delhi of such a plan through comments to the media 'without ascertaining our willingness or convenience'.

Taking a swipe at his Pakistani counterpart, he said, "Perhaps it is not required in the traditions and customs of Pakistan to ascertain the convenience and willingness of the host before barging in. Perhaps prevalent Pakistan diplomatic practice does not require that a potential host be informed in advance of the intention before rushing to the press."

Questioning what Pakistan meant by established SAARC practice when, on several occasions in the past, such invitations have been delivered through diplomatic channels, he said Islamabad had itself followed this practice when it hosted the SAARC Summit in 1988. 

Pakistan had also not made any efforts to send a special envoy or its foreign minister when a Summit was being organised in 2003, he said.

"It is clear that Pakistan's intention was not to follow an established practice, but to try to impose its approach in the context of India-Pakistan relations," he said.

Observing that India has always been supportive of SAARC processes, he said it was Pakistan, which has prevented meaningful progress.  "Perhaps it believes that South Asian traditions require allegiance to form rather than substance," he added.

Without mincing words, the MEA official said it appeared that Pakistan also believed that 'false denials and dissemination are an essential part of South Asian traditions'.

Accusing Pakistan of falsely denying its involvement with terrorism, he said, "The whole world now recognises Pakistan as the epicentre." 

Pakistan continues to claim to be a committed part of the international coalition against terrorism, even as it continues to provide training, indoctrination and funding to terrorists and serve as a platform for international terrorism, he said.

"It accuses India of avoiding dialogue when, until 1990, it chose to avoid any discussion on issues related to Jammu and Kashmir, and subsequently deprived itself of any meaningful opportunity by resorting to use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy," the spokesman added.

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