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'Is the PM bartering Kashmir with Balochistan?'

July 23, 2009 14:31 IST

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Thursday defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on the joint statement issued after his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Egypt.

However, his statement had few takers, and most experts feel that the reference to Balochistan in the joint statement would prove to be a costly blunder.

"Since independence, many blunders had been committed on the Kashmir issue, but this one seems to be the biggest. Is the PM bartering Kashmir with Balochistan? The Pakistani media is already implying that the Research and Analysis Wing was involved in carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan," said former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has also criticised Dr Singh's 'concession' to Pakistan in the joint statement. Senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi feels that the situation might spiral beyond the control of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

However, Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja refuted Pakistan's claims, saying, "They have been involved in terrorist activities across the world. How can the Pakistan media blame RAW for terrorist attacks?"

Communist Party of India – Marxist leader Nilotpal Basu reacted cautiously to the joint statement, saying he would 'wait and watch' the developments.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi