In a tit-for-tat move, Pakistan summoned India's high commissioner here on Thursday to lodge a protest over the summoning of its envoy in New Delhi following foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's telephonic conversation with a separatist Kashmiri leader. Islamabad maintained that it would continue to extend support to the people of Kashmir.
India's foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale Wednesday summoned Pakistan's envoy Sohail Mahmood in New Delhi and categorically told him that Qureshi's telephonic conversation with separatist Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was a "brazen attempt to subvert India's unity and violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity".
The ministry of external affairs, in a late evening statement, said the Pakistan high commissioner was "cautioned" that "persistence of such behaviour by Pakistan will have implications".
In Islamabad, Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal Thursday said that foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria to lodge a protest over the summoning of Pakistan's envoy.
Foreign secretary Janjua made it clear to Bisaria that Pakistan would continue to extend support to the people of Kashmir, he said.
She stressed that the status of Jammu and Kashmir is internationally accepted as "disputed territory and Pakistan will continue to support Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination", Faisal said.
Faisal also said that summoning of Pakistani envoy late last night is just a "political gimmickry and electioneering".
The foreign office in a statement issued Wednesday midnight said that Pakistan "categorically rejects the objections" by India.
The leadership in Pakistan has always been communicating with the Kashmiri leadership, the statement said. "This is not anything new."
"We would like to reiterate that Kashmir is an outstanding dispute between India and Pakistan, and acknowledged as such through UN Security Council resolutions as well as numerous Pakistan-India documents including the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration," it said.
INDIA REACTS SHARPLY
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 in India said Thursday.
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.
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 "militant".