India and Pakistan were back to sparring on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly, with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Tuesday rejecting the contention that Jammu and Kashmir is not an integral part of India.
The war of words triggered by President Asif Ali Zardari continued after the claim of Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, Raza Bashir Tarar, that Jammu and Kashmir has never been an integral part of India.
Exercising Pakistan's 'Right of Reply', Tarar also maintained that Zardari's reference to Kashmir in his speech last week seeking settlement of the issue in accordance with UN resolutions, which India had always rejected as outdated, was "not unwarranted".
Last year, Pakistan did not make any provocative reference to Kashmir, with its Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar merely stating that Islamabad looked forward to resolving all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India.
"I did not expect that President Zardari would make a reference to Kashmir and once a reference from Pakistan at the highest level in the UN is made, then it is certainly the responsibility of India to state its stated position," Krishna told media persons here.
Krishna, in his address to the 193-member General Assembly yesterday, said that "an unwarranted" reference to Jammu and Kashmir was made from the UN podium. "... We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India."
Krishna today said his remark on Kashmir at the UNGA should be read in the right sequence. "Read this (reference to Kashmir) in the sequence in which it emerges," he said, adding he had to respond to Zardari's speech.
Krishna added that he had not said anything new regarding Kashmir in his UNGA address.
"This is the position which India has taken over decades so I reiterated that position so that it would be some kind of response to what the President of Pakistan told this General Assembly," he said, adding that "nothing more" needs to be read to the statements on the issue either from him or Zardari.
India says didn't expect Zardari to rake up Kashmir at UNGA:
When asked whether the issue of Kashmir being raked up at international fora like the UN could be an irritant to efforts being made by the two countries to normalise their ties, Krishna said, "We will continue our dialogue with Pakistan and the road map has been drawn and we will try to stick to the road map and let us see how it go."
Later, invoking its own right of reply, India hit out at Pakistan saying the "gratuitous reference" to Kashmir by the neighbouring country is tantamount to interference in India's internal matter.
"We are exercising our right of reply in response to the gratuitous references from the delegation of Pakistan about the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is and has always been an integral part of India," Vinay Kumar, Minister at the Permanent mission of India said.
"It is ironical that these comments have been made by a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of a part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.
"These references constitute a clear interference in the internal affairs of India and we reject them in their entirety," Kumar said.