Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a group of American reporters that India will not hold talks with Pakistan until it gives up its state policy of supporting terrorism.
Mr Shringla said that the onus is on Pakistan to change its state policy of terrorism in order to improve the relations between the two countries. The envoy said that as long as supporting terrorism is a state policy of Pakistan, no Indian government will get a mandate from the people to reach out to that country.
The reporters enquired about the future of India-Pakistan relations to which Mr Shringla said the day Pakistan adjourns terrorism as a means of achieving its end, “I think the government will be within its mandate” to start a better relationship with its western neighbour.
“I think it is the desire of every Indian to have good relations with Pakistan. You see our relations with Bangladesh, you see our relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan. We have excellent relationships,” he said.
He also added that PM Modi’s inclusive policy of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas is meant for the development of all, including India’s neighbours.
“We have committed USD27 billion to the development of our neighbourhood and Pakistan is welcome to join. But it cannot be pursuing a policy of supporting terrorism on the one hand and then trying to talk of peace on the other. That double handed policy is not something that we can deal with anymore,” said Shringla.
Yesterday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated PM Modi’s victory in the Lok Sabha election. Although he wrote about working together for peace in the region he makes no mention of the terrorism that still emanates from the country.
I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 23, 2019
India had suspended bilateral talks with Pakistan after the URI attacks. Pakistan’s new PM Imran Khan had initially tried to make grandiose statements regarding bilateral talks but India has been firm on its stand that no bilateral talks will happen till Pakistan continues to sponsor terrorism on Indian soil.
On Wednesday, Pakistan media had reported a ‘meeting’ between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi saying the two sat beside each other while attending the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). However, the MEA has clarified there was only an exchange of pleasantries and no formal meeting took place between the two leaders.
MEA has also said that the report of both the leaders sitting together was “factually incorrect and misleading”. “The seating arrangement at SCO follows the Russian alphabet system which does not put India and Pakistan together. This is standard practice at SCO meetings,” they added.