New Delhi, March 25: The US state department’s call to resume talks with Pakistan has touched off a raw nerve as India, seething at the recent massacre in Kashmir, today hit back by questioning America’s decision to invade Iraq.
“If dialogue per se is more critical than combating international terrorism with all necessary means, then one can legitimately ask why both in Afghanistan and Iraq military action instead of dialogue has been resorted to,” foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.
The deviation from Delhi’s “middle path” approach came after US state department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington that “violence” will not solve Kashmir’s problems and that “dialogue” was a “critical element” in normalising ties between India and Pakistan.
The Centre has so far been muted in its criticism of America’s decision to go to war.
According to the argument put forward by the leadership, a tough stand might jeopardise Delhi’s relations with Washington and give Islamabad an edge over it in dealing with the George W. Bush administration.
Boucher’s remarks, predictably, angered Delhi, which is yet to come out with a decision on what would be the most appropriate action to deal with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism following Sunday night’s massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pundits.
“We see the call for dialogue by the US state department spokesman as inappropriate in the context of the heinous terrorist crime in Jammu and Kashmir,” Sarna said.
“It regrettably shifts the focus from the basic problem between India and Pakistan. The problem is not lack of dialogue but continued sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan which is being overlooked.”
India’s frustration has been compounded by the realisation that any tough action against Pakistan could deepen the crisis in South Asia which could, in turn, divert the world’s attention from the Iraq war.
If that happens, Washington will not be too pleased with Delhi as this could jeopardise its plan to bring about a regime change in Baghdad.