New York: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday made a personal and unprofessional remark at External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after India avoided Pakistan at the SAARC meeting. He made the remarks at the Asia Society, a day after Sushma Swaraj had refused to interact with him and left after delivering her speech without staying on for his address.
“I was quite concerned when I saw the Minister for External Affairs, when I was in the room she looked pale to me,” Qureshi said while laughing. “She looked very worried. I wish, I wish we could have smiled at each other,” he said. Most of the people in the audience which included a large number of people of Pakistani descent did not join his laughter.
The Pakistan minister further said that he could sense immense strain that she wasn’t even willing to engage with the media. “I could see the immense strain and when she left, she wasn’t even willing to engage with the media. I had no problem, but I could see the pressure, but I could see the political pressure on her, politics, nothing else, politics, domestic politics,” he said.
On Thursday, after delivering her speech, the External Affairs Minister left the venue without waiting for the Pakistan Foreign Minister to begin his speech.
Alleging that India wasn’t interested in Pakistan’s peace efforts, Qureshi said, “She left midway. Maybe she wasn’t feeling well. I listened to her statement. She talked of regional cooperation. How is regional cooperation possible, when everybody is ready to sit and talk and you are blocking that?” he said.
Reacting to the allegations, the MEA sources said that accusations are “baseless and away from the reality”. “Allegations by Pakistani Foreign Min regarding India not being serious about SAARC are baseless and away from reality. EAM in her speech had extensively dealt with various SAARC related projects and expressed India’s commitment to making SAARC a success as regional grouping,” a source said.