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Anguished says India on Pak statement on Qureshi’s call to Mirwaiz

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Feb 01: India reacted sharply to Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's phone call to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and subsequent statement by Pakistan foreign office on it primarily to send a "very strong" message that certain "red lines" must not be breached, government sources said on Thursday.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

India was particularly anguished over Pakistan's statement on Tuesday, sharing details of the conversation that centred around the Kashmir issue, they said.

Though Pakistani leaders may have telephoned separatists in Kashmir in the past but perhaps, it was the first time in recent years that Islamabad put out a statement highlighting the talking points which New Delhi felt was a clear case of violation of the red lines, the sources said.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale Wednesday night summoned Pakistan envoy Sohail Mahmood and categorically told him that Qureshi's action was a "brazen attempt" to subvert India's unity and territorial integrity. He was also "cautioned" that persistence of such behaviour will have "implications".

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Asked at a weekly media briefing about the possible "implications" if Pakistan does not heed to India's warning, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said he was not at the liberty to spell out contours of the "consequences".

"The Pakistani foreign minister's action is not only a direct interference into India's internal affairs but it also encourages other individuals associated with terrorism and anti-India activities," he said.

The spokesperson parried a question whether government considers the Mirwaiz a terrorist.

In a tit-for-tat move, Pakistan summoned India's high commissioner in Islamabad on Thursday to lodge a protest over the summoning of its envoy in New Delhi.

In a statement, the MEA on Wednesday said Gokhale conveyed to the Pakistani envoy that Qureshi's "deplorable act" has violated all norms for the conduct of international relations even by Pakistan's own standards and that India condemned it in the strongest terms.

It said Gokhale underscored that the action has confirmed yet again that Pakistan officially abets and encourages individuals associated with terrorism and anti-India activities.

"It has exposed to the entire international community Pakistan's duplicity in professing their desire for normal relations with India on the one hand, while openly inciting anti-India activities on the other," the MEA said.

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