–Foreign minister says India’s dialogue offer to Hurriyat sans Pakistan is a departure from norms on Kashmir issue
–Urges Hurriyat to put its foot down, asking India to talk to Pakistan as well
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Abdulah Hussain Haroon on Tuesday said that dialogue offer made by Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Hurriyat Conference while totally ignoring Pakistan was a departure from diplomatic norms since Pakistan is the principal party to Kashmir dispute.
“Rajnath Singh makes up his own mind and you cannot dictate his agenda. Anything to do to talks should include Pakistan. That has been the tradition and the norm. Only talking to Hurriyat is not a good idea and I think if they are doing so. Hurriyat should put its foot down and tell Rajnath Singh to include Pakistan in talks,” said Abdullah Haroon while exclusively talking to Pakistan Today.
On May 26, Indian Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh had offered the olive branch to the Hurriyat leadership, saying that the Indian government is ready to hold dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference leadership if they come forward for the talks. However, Ali Geelani on May 28 rejected Rajnath Singh’s talks offer, making it clear that Hurriyat would only talk when India accepts Kashmir as a dispute.
In an informal chat at the iftar dinner hosted in the honour of journalists at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister deplored the fact that the Pakistani government had done nothing on Kishenganga Dam despite the fact that the United Nations secretary general had appointed an arbitrator to decide the matter during his stint as the permanent ambassador of Pakistan to the UN.
“When I was permanent envoy to the UN, I had raised the Kishenganga Dam issue with the then UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and he had appointed an arbitrator on Kishenganga within twenty-four hours. I fail to understand why the issue is dormant and why the Pakistani government did nothing afterwards,” he argued.
“We have committed a blunder when it comes to resolving water issues with India. But later we did nothing. I believe that the Indus Water Treaty is problematic. Those who signed it lacked vision and while signing, the Pakistani negotiators had an understanding of the issue with a futuristic perspective. They just thought that ‘idher hum udhar tum‘. So I think we have short-changed ourselves on the Indus Water Treaty. But there are ways to approach it,” he said.
On Afghanistan, the minister said that he has been telling the US administration not to scapegoat Pakistan on the Afghan issue.
“The US has been looking for excuses for their failure in Afghanistan. What are we doing, we are helping them along the way. Anything loses efficacy once you say it many times,” he said.
When asked to comment on his would be priorities as the foreign minister during the short stint of sixty days in the caretaker setup, the minister said that his priority would be to set the perspective of the country’s foreign policy right.
“I think Pakistan needs to identify its strengths and available options. We need to abandon the mumbling jumbling on the diplomatic front,” he said.
Responding to a query about Pakistan-US relations, the minister said that Pakistan needs to engage the US administration and should speak firmly, frankly, clearly and with one voice.
He said that he would first seek the vision of Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk and then would draft a policy to deal with friendly countries overall issues.
“We need to be clear and firm and we should speak with one voice. There is no option but to be firm and direct. Relations with the US need to be reviewed,” he said and added that rather than giving the US a blanket run through the country, Pakistan should seek transit fee against the Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs) for US forces.