External Affairs

India Reiterates Conditions for Talks with Pakistan

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, flanked by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, flanked by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: India today reaffirmed adherence to “three conditions” including having an atmosphere “free of terror and violence” as a precursor to any engagement with Pakistan and demanded action against terrorists like Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

Asserting that there was no “flip-flop” or “confusion” in the government, which has a “very clear Pakistan policy”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the two countries had decided on three principles for talks when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come here last year. These principles were also part of the Shimla and Lahore declarations.

“First, we are ready to resolve each issue through peaceful dialogue. Second, the talks will be between the two countries –us and Pakistan. Neither will a third country mediate nor will there be a third party. Third, an atmosphere of harmony should be created by keeping away terror and violence.

“These were not decided today… We have told Pakistan repeatedly that talks can take place based on these three principles,” she told a press conference, noting that these were the principles agreed upon by the two countries in the Shimla and Lahore declarations.

The minister said no engagement was scheduled when asked if any meeting was proposed between India and Pakistan in the near future.

“Now if Lakhvi is out and he is released….and if Pakistan thinks that there is an atmosphere of harmony, will India accept it?” she added.

“There is no flip-flop in our policy. We had decided on three principles for talks when Sharif had come here to participate in the swearing-in ceremony (of Narendra Modi as PM). Since then we have been following those three principles,” she said.

Hurriyat issue

On India calling-off the talks last year after the Pakistani High Commissioner held consultations with Kashmiri separatists, Swaraj said normally meetings with  took place when any leader comes from Pakistan or officials of that country are here.

“But here the Pakistani High Commissioner invited them (separatists) four days ahead of the dialogue with India. We told him that why he had invited them when the two countries were going to hold dialogue. In talks, we don’t want any third party,” Swaraj said.

Parrikar controversy

Asked about recent statements made by the Home and Defence Ministers regarding the whereabouts of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and “terrorists have to be neutralised only through terrorists” respectively, she said there was no confusion while dealing with Pakistan “If there is bombardment on the border, the Home Minister will not keep quiet.

“He (Home minister) will have to retaliate and definitely he will speak in that language. Defence Minister has been given the responsibility of defending the country. He will have to ensure security. So he will speak that way”.

Chinese projects in PoK

To the question of Chinese assistance for an economic corridor through PoK, the minister said their (China) Ambassador was called to lodge protest.

“This time we did not keep it there. We lodged protest calling the Chinese ambassador. We lodged protest through our Ambassador there (Beijing). And when the Prime Minister had gone there (to China), he talked about it very firmly. He raised it very strongly that it is not acceptable to us what you are talking about China-Pakistan economic corridor going to PoK.”

On Pakistan trying to use China to put a “technical hold” on India’s request to list Syed Salahuddin in the UN Security Council sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and associated entities, Swaraj said,”We had told China that we are not the only victim of terror. China is also a victim and the source is same. So, while voting in 1267 in these type of issues, do not take a narrow view. Keep global terrorism in mind and follow a policy so that we can work together and take decisions unitedly. This was conveyed to the Chinese leadership by the Indian leadership.”

The sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and others has been constituted under UN’s resolution 1267.

Cricketing ties 

Swaraj also said no decision has been taken on an Indo-Pak cricket series.

Her remarks came in the backdrop of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan’s recent visit to India to push for the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket ties.

Shaharyar, during a joint press statement with BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata, proposed a series comprising three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s in UAE in December this year but the BCCI has not given any categorical statement yet on the proposed series and the venue.

“No decision has been taken. Where has this information come that this (Indo-Pak cricket series) has been decided and that I was not consulted. No decision has been taken,” Swaraj said when asked about the reports that India will be playing bilateral cricket series with Pakistan.

India have not played a full bilateral Test series with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks which led to suspension of cricketing ties between the two countries.

The two nations played a short series of three ODIs and two T20 matches in India in December 2012 but otherwise they have met only in ICC-organised events or the Asia Cup.