NEW YORK, September 28, 2010 - A diplomatic spat over Kashmir unfolded at Asia Society when India's external affairs minister accused his Pakistani counterpart of making "unacceptable" accusations over the security and political situation in the disputed territory.
At the United Nations today, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed India had failed to grant the people of Kashmir a free and fair plebiscite over self-determination. He also told an audience at Asia Society last week Indian security forces had killed more than 100 Kashmiris in the past two months.
At a luncheon hosted by Asia Society President Vishakha Desai today, India's Minister for External Affairs Shri S. M. Krishna hit back and described the allegations as an attempt by Islamabad to divert attention from its many internal problems, such as catastrophic flooding and terrorism.
"It is with a sense of genuine disappointment that I react to the unacceptable references to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir made by Foreign Minister Qureshi in his address to the UN earlier today," he said. "I am also aware that at this august forum (Asia Society) he had brought up the issue last week."
"Such unsolicited and untenable remarks will not, and indeed, can not divert attention from the multiple problems Pakistan needs to tackle for the common good of its people and indeed the entire region."
Krishna said the people of the disputed region regularly took part in local, state, and national elections. "Are not elections plebiscites?" he said, adding that dialogue over the longstanding dispute could only happen in "an atmosphere free of violence and confrontation."
The Indian minister said Pakistan should live up to its pledges to ensure that its territory is not used by terrorists to "unleash" attacks against India.
"But alas, the result is for everyone to see," Krishna said, pointing to attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and in Mumbai in 2008.
The two foreign ministers met in Islamabad two months ago and Qureshi is scheduled to visit New Delhi soon despite the latest row.
In today's Asia Society address, Krishna outlined his country's attempts to build on relations with Russia and China. He also highlighted India's campaign to have the UN Security Council reshaped and expanded to allow it to become a Permanent Member.
The minister raised high hopes for a planned visit by US President Barack Obama to India in November, saying it would be a "defining moment in the history of bilateral relations" between Washington and New Delhi.
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