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War with Pak not an option, talks to end terror: Swaraj

Declaring that “war is not an option”, India on Wednesday said it had decided to hold dialogue with Pakistan as it is the only way to remove “the shadow of terrorism”. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha that India and Pakistan decided to hold talks on terror when the Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Ufa in July and then in Paris recently.

“We said we can talk so that terrorism comes to an end. So talks (between NSAs) took place in Bangkok, where we discussed terrorism. But one meeting will not bring a solution to all problems. So we will continue the dialogue,” she said. 

When BJP member Ganesh Singh asked if India was exploring options like the US did to hunt down terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, Swaraj said India is talking to Pakistan on terrorist camps in PoK as “war is not an option”. “We have decided that through talks we will resolve the issue of terrorism as talks is the way forward so that the shadow of terror is removed. But we want to make it clear, our PM has made it clear that talks and terror can’t go together. Dialogue is drowned by the sound of explosion,” she said.

Swaraj was speaking against the backdrop of recent decision to re-start the ‘Comprehensive’ dialogue with Pakistan under which various subjects, including terrorism and J&K, will be discussed. She said Modi had said there was a need for talks to resolve the issue of terrorism.

“The PM said let’s talk on terror. For talks, we will have to put in faith. There is no third party. Through talks, both the countries are trying to resolve the issue of terrorism,” she said.

Swaraj said following Modi’s conversation with Sharif in Paris on November 30 on the sidelines of climate change summit and in line with the Ufa understanding between the two leaders, the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of the two countries met in Bangkok on December 6.

“They held candid and constructive discussion. During my visit to Pakistan on December 8-9, the two sides decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial,” she said.

Swaraj said India will continue to take all steps to safeguard the nation’s security and safety of all its citizens.

When asked whether India raised the issue of cross-border terrorism at international forums like the UN, Swaraj said the government actively discusses it in all its forms and manifestations in multilateral forums, including UN, EU, SCO, ARF, BIMSTEC, SAARC, GCTF, etc, and bilaterally with several countries, including all P-5 countries in Joint Working Groups on counter terrorism. 

She said Modi had raised the issue of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), which has been pending in the UN for adoption since 1996. The PM has also discussed the CCIT with several world leaders. “It is heartening that now we are getting support from many countries and we are hopeful that the CCIT resolution would be adopted in the UN soon,” she said.

CCIT, a global treaty proposed by India in 1996, aims to ban terrorists and make it binding for countries to deny funds and safe haven to them.

Swaraj said India has taken up on a number of occasions bilaterally with Pakistan and also with international community New Delhi’s concerns regarding cross-border terrorism. “As a result of the government’s consistent pursuit of the matter, several individuals including Hafiz Saeed and entities including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawaa have been listed under the relevant provisions of the UNSC resolution No. 1267 which deals with Al Qaeda and related organisations," she said.
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