ISLAMABAD - Kashmir dispute continues to be a sore point for the Indians and it was more than obvious last week when Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan acted rather undiplomatically by walking out of a Foreign Office function when a speaker mentioned the ‘K’ word.

The occasion was a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Charter Day reception hosted by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani Friday where envoys of member states, senior government and Saarc officials gathered to highlight significance of the regional grouping.

It happened when the key note speaker Dr Maria Sultan, representing the Islamabad-based South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI), in her address referred to the Kashmir dispute as she argued that political disputes were the main cause of SAARC not moving forward as it ought to. The Indian High Commissioner rose from his seat and left even before the Foreign Secretary’s closing remarks when Dr Sultan proposed that the regional grouping ought to provide for mechanisms to resolve bilateral disputes like Kashmir that have had a negative bearing on the SAARC. Initially, even the hosts did not figure that it was a walkout. However, it later transpired that the mention of Kashmir had irked the newly appointed Indian High Commissioner and he made an early exit as a mark of protest. He felt that it was not the right forum for this issue to be raised as it was a bilateral matter, according to diplomatic sources.

The Foreign Office took an exception to what it saw as the Indian envoy’s “over-reaction” and conveyed its displeasure to the Indian High Commission, it is learnt.

India has always been uneasy about Pakistan raising the Kashmir dispute at multilateral forums including the OIC and the UN although there are some 23 UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. Notably, India took the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations first in 1948. It was the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who approached the Security Council seeking its help under Chapter 6 which deals with disputes.