NEW DELHI: India summoned Pakistan's envoy in protest against a telephone call made by Pakistan's foreign minister to a separatist leader in Indian Kashmir and said there would be consequences if there was more such contact.
The row is the latest to erupt between the nuclear-armed rivals over the disputed territory of Kashmir at the heart of seven decades of hostility. India has refused any talks with its neighbour saying it must first stop supporting militants fighting its rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called Pakistan's ambassador, Sohail Mahmood, on Wednesday to denounce Pakistan for trying to subvert the country's integrity, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the call by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a leader of the separatist umbrella All Parties Hurriyat Conference, based in Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir, was deplorable.
"The Pakistan Foreign Minister’s actions are tantamount to direct interference in the internal affairs of its neighbour," the foreign ministry said.
Pakistan denies giving any material help the militants but says it is committed to giving the Kashmiri people moral and diplomatic support in their struggle for self-determination.
It rejected the Indian objections and said that the leadership in Pakistan had always been in touch with Kashmiri leaders and there was nothing new in the phone call.
"We would like to reiterate that Kashmir is an outstanding dispute between India and Pakistan, and acknowledged as such through U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as numerous Pakistan-India documents..." the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It said it was a "travesty" to portray the struggle of the Kashmiri people as terrorism.
India and Pakistan have twice gone to war over Kashmir. India controls 45 percent, in the south and east, Pakistan about a third in the north and west, and China the rest.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said that Gokhale asked the Pakistani envoy to ensure there was no more such contact.
"He was cautioned that persistence of such behaviour by Pakistan will have implications."