United Nations: Strongly reacting to External Affairs Minister SM Krishna's reference to Kashmir at the UN, Pakistan has claimed that Jammu and Kashmir had never been an integral part of India and said President Asif Ali Zardari's statement on the issue was "not unwarranted".

Pakistan's mission to the UN said it was exercising its 'Right of Reply' regarding the remarks made by the Indian minister that an "unwarranted" reference to Jammu and Kashmir was made at the United Nations.

In the Right of Reply submitted to the UN General Assembly President following Krishna's address, Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar said, "Let me begin by emphasising that the reference to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in the President of Pakistan's statement was not 'unwarranted'."

"Let me also make absolutely clear that Jammu and Kashmir is neither an integral part of India nor has it ever been," a statement issued by the Pakistan mission here quoted Tarar as saying.

Tarar quoted from Zardari's speech at the UN last week in which the Pakistan President had said that Kashmir remained a "symbol of the failures" and not the strengths of the UN system. Raking up the Kashmir issue at the UN yet again, Zardari had said that Pakistan would continue to support the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council's resolutions on the matter.

"The President of Pakistan said no more, no less," Tarar said.

Krishna, who addressed the 193-member General Assembly on Monday, said "an unwarranted" reference to Jammu and Kashmir was made from the UN podium.

He said India's principled position on the issue had been consistent and was well known.

"The people of Jammu and Kashmir have chosen and reaffirmed their destiny repeatedly through India's well-established democratic processes. We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India," Krishna said in his address.

Krishna said that he had not expected Zardari to refer to Kashmir in his address to the UN General Assembly and it was the responsibility of India to respond to it.

He said his remark on Kashmir at the UNGA yesterday should be read in the right sequence.

"Read this (reference to Kashmir) in the sequence in which it emerges. 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 said.

He said 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.

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 goes."

(Agencies)

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