Millennium Post

Hard to treat ties as normal until Pak checks terror: India

The Pathankot terror strike has once again reinforced centrality of terrorism in Indo-Pak ties and it will be hard for India to treat the relations as normal unless Pakistan addresses the issue effectively, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said today.

“Until we are able to address the issue (terrorism) effectively, obviously it is hard for us to say that the relationship is normal. Because this is what puts Pakistan in a different category than our other neighbours,” he said.

However, the Foreign Secretary maintained that given the “challenge” of the relationship with Pakistan, India has “fared well” in keeping the focus firmly on the central issue of terrorism.

“If you see the interactions, I think, one change has been the centrality of addressing the issue of terrorism to dialogue... That was reflected when the two Prime Ministers met in Ufa. It was underlined when the two NSAs met in Bangkok.

“If you see the reconstituted dialogue that we have, the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, the salience of terrorism (is there). Because this is not a point of argumentation. It is taking into account about what is happening on the ground,” he said. He was asked about the Narendra Modi government’s policy towards Pakistan, particularly in the aftermath of the Pathankot attack.

Talking about India’s ties with neighbours, Jaishankar said, “Pakistan, of course, is a category by itself”. 

“But given the challenge of the relationship we have fared well in keeping the focus firmly on the central issue of terrorism in maintaining an engagement that factors in the complexity of that polity and in enhancing the global understanding of our approach. That said, we also look beyond to a more normal relationship featuring economic cooperation and people-to- people ties,” he said. 

Have taken up Masood issue at high level with China: Jaishankar
India has taken up at a “fairly high level” with China the issue of Beijing blocking its bid to have Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar as designated terrorist by the UN, Jaishankar said.

Asserting that India will continue to pursue the matter with China in the context of the UN, he also noted that the government has had a “backing and forthing” on the issue with the Chinese.

“My sense is that the particular issue that you referred to is something we have taken up with the Chinese. We have taken it up at a sort of fairly high level and we will continue to pursue this with the Chinese,” Jaishankar said.

He was replying to a question during an interaction on India’s position on China blocking for the second time country’s bid at the UN to get Azhar banned.

However, he indicated that the issue was not going affect India’s relationship with China in other areas. “This is an issue to be pursued with the Chinese in a UN context. I would not like to give the impression that somehow this is going to overflow into other areas. We have had a backing and forthing with them on this issue. We have to wait and see where this goes,” he said.

Last week, China stopped UN sanctions committee from designating Azhar as terrorist, maintaining that the case “did not meet the requirements” of the Security Council.

This is not the first time China has blocked India’s bid to get Pakistan-based militant groups and leaders proscribed by the UN. The UN had banned the JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts for slapping sanctions on Azhar after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack also did not fructify as China, that has veto powers, did not allow it apparently at the behest of Pakistan again.

Last July, China had similarly halted India’s move in the UN to take action against Pakistan for its release of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, saying its stand was “based on facts and in the spirit of objectiveness and fairness” with Beijing again claiming at the time that it was in touch with New Delhi. 

Asked about the border issue with China, the Foreign Secretary said if capabilities are more “one sided”, there is a greater temptation to disturb the status quo. “So to the extent capabilities are better balanced, the status quo is better preserved. Balancing capabilities on our end, certainly requires better infra, better equipment, better preparation... So I think that is very much the focus of what is today the policy within the government,” he said.
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