The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India blasts Kasuri

New Delhi, July 12: India today took strong exception to the Pakistan foreign minister’s remarks linking the Mumbai blasts to non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute, casting a cloud on the bilateral peace process.

Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, who is in the US, was yesterday quoted as saying the “best way” of dealing with terror in South Asia was to tackle the “real issue” of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a hard-hitting statement expressing India’s anger and outrage, foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said: “Terrorism can’t be tolerated on any ground whatsoever and no cause justifies the murder of innocent people.

“We find it appalling (that Kasuri should) seek to link the blatant and inhuman act of terrorism against innocent men, women and children to so-called lack of resolution of disputes between India and Pakistan.”

Sarna continued his hitback further, trashing the recent elections in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and accusing Islamabad of deliberately reducing passenger load on Thar Express despite its growing popularity.

But he refrained from directly implicating Pakistan in the Mumbai blasts, saying India would wait for investigations to get over before drawing any conclusion.

He did not, however, hold back from asking Pakistan to take urgent steps to dismantle its terror infrastructure.

Sarna reminded Pakistan of the joint statement of January 6, 2004, which had laid the foundation of the peace process. India has repeatedly dismissed Pakistan’s claims that it has taken effective measures to curb crossover of militants.

Next, he dismissed the PoK elections as a “sham”. He said the electoral process for the “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” council lacked credibility as the papers of 30 of 31 Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front candidates had been rejected because they refused to sign a declaration on Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan.

Sarna said the situation in Gilgit and Baltistan was worse. Pakistan had, moreover, not allowed international observers to monitor the poll process, he added. So, the elections could neither be called free and fair nor an exercise in self-governance.

He then turned his glare on Thar Express, saying it would carry fewer people from July 21 despite its growing popularity as Pakistan had not been able to handle the rush.

Pakistan has refused to increase the number of coaches from seven to 10, citing infrastructure constraint. India said seven coaches would limit passenger flow to 400 per trip against 700 now.

Foreign ministry officials have declined comment on whether next week’s talks in Delhi between the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries will be affected.

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