New Delhi: In a single remark that completely overshadowed her visit to India and in what has come as a huge embarrassment for India, visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted by reports as telling the German media accompanying her on Indian soil that the situation in Kashmir was “not sustainable and not good” and that “this has to change for sure.”
The remarks could well have shocked the Indian government, which did not immediately react to it. The remarks after she had co-chaired the Indo-German fifth biennial Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) in the morning along with PM Modi.
After the remarks, Chancellor Merkel was scheduled to have restricted talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a dinner hosted by the Indian government. Sources, however, said the Kashmir issue did not figure during the IGC discussions on Friday morning.
“As the situation at this moment (in Kashmir) is not sustainable and not good, this has to change for sure,” Ms Merkel was quoted by reports as having told the German media. According to some reports, she also apparently planned to raise the Kashmir developments with Prime Minister Modi during the restricted talks, but there was no official information on what had transpired.
Sources meanwhile expressed confidence that the long-standing German position that Kashmir issue was a bilateral one that had to be discussed between India and Pakistan remained unchanged. They say that the German Chancellor may well have had to comment on Kashmir, keeping in view her home constituency and the European position on human rights. “Germany has been supporting India on the Kashmir issue on international fora,” sources pointed out.
India, Germany ink pacts on start-ups, yoga
The remarks also ironically came after more than 20 European Union MPs, who had visited Kashmir recently on a “private visit” that was “facilitated” by the Indian government, backed India on the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism.
Meanwhile, in a veiled message to Pakistan without naming it, Modi and Merkel on Thursday underlined the “need for all countries to ensure that their territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner.”
In presence of the German Chancellor, Modi said the two countries would “intensify bilateral and multilateral cooperation to deal with threats like terrorism and extremism.”
On the occasion, India and Germany also held their fifth biennial Inter Governmental Consultations (IGC), with the two nations signing a total of 22 pacts, including five joint declarations of intent in various fields and including strategic sectors, green technology, Artificial Intelligence, prevention of marine litter, Space, civil aviation, smart cities, start-ups, skill development, education, yoga and sports.
The two countries together emphasised that “terrorism is a global scourge” and “called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross border movement of terrorists.”
Both nations also reiterated their cooperation for UNSC reform....