Khurshid draws sharp criticism for hosting lunch for Pak PM in Jaipur

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 09, 2013 08:00 hrs

Taking potshots at External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for hosting a lunch for the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Jaipur, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday this move is against the feelings of the people of the country who are deeply hurt over the January 2013 beheading of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I think the issue of our External Affairs Minister going to Jaipur to meet the visiting Prime Minister of Pakistan, who is on a personal visit to India, is against the feeling of the people of India," Sinha told media here.

"The recent incident on the LoC when two of our soldiers were killed and their heads were taken away has hurt the feelings of the people of this country and this visit is taking place soon after. And therefore, the people of the country do not want that we should go beyond the normal call of duty to entertain the Pakistani Prime Minister," he added.

Defence Expert Bharat Verma said the External Affairs Minister has contradicted Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's statement that India will not talk to Pakistan unless the terror infrastructure there is dismantled.

"The Prime Minister's statement that unless the structures of terrorism are dismantled in Pakistan then India will not talk to Pakistan, they cannot have normal relationship is contradicted by Salman Khurshid who's trying to please his domestic constituency, is contradicted by his going to Jaipur, breaking the protocol when a junior officer could have received the Prime Minister of Pakistan on a private visit," said Verma.

"He has contradicted Prime Minister's policy that means the Prime Minister has control over his Foreign Minister," he added.

Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Naresh Agarwal on his part said the boycott by the cleric of Ajmer Sharif is correct.

" Our leader Mulayam Singh has always said that if Pakistan does not listen then India should attack at the militant spots to put an end to militancy," he told media in Lucknow.

The dargah dewan of Ajmer shrine, Syed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, earlier on Friday said that he was opposed to the visit by the Pakistani Prime Minister in the wake of the January 2013 beheading of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I will not welcome or be present during his visit to the Dargah. The inhuman manner in which Indian soldiers were treated by the Pakistan Army is despicable and condemned it in the strongest of words. It will be a dishonour to the families of the Indian soldiers who were beheaded by their (Pakistan) army," he told media in Ajmer.

The Pakistani Prime Minister arrived in Jaipur this afternoon on a private trip to pay homage to Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at his dargah in Ajmer. Ashraf is the first Pakistani leader to visit India after the brutal beheading of two Indian jawans along the LoC by the Pakistani troops in January this year.

Khurshid, who had ruled out any diplomatic talks with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister, hosted a lunch in his honour in Jaipur.

Khurshid yesterday said that he would be receiving the visiting dignitary on his private visit to Ajmer Sharif as a courtesy.

"It is a private visit. A spiritual visit to a place, which gives out the message of peace; Dargah Sharif gives out a message of peace. And I think anyone comes with a message of peace in a place of peace, we should receive them with peace," said Khurshid.

Ashraf will fly from Jaipur to Ajmer in a helicopter. He will return to Jaipur in the evening and leave for Islamabad. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the shrine keeping in view the Pakistani Prime Minister's visit.

On the eve of the Ashraf's visit, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh made it clear that normalisation of relations with Pakistan cannot take place unless the terror infrastructure there is dismantled.

Dr. Singh told the Parliament yesterday that India has made sincere efforts to normalise its relations with Pakistan.

The dialogue process between the two Asian neighbours was impacted by ceasefire violations on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir in January this year with India lodging a strong protest over the brutal killing of two of its soldiers in the Poonch sector. (ANI)

More from Sify: