A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan was waging a proxy war against India, New Delhi and Islamabad on Wednesday engaged in a war of words. While Pakistan termed Modi’s statement as “baseless rhetoric” and said the accusation was “most unfortunate”, India said terrorism is a “real and present danger” and the PM was articulating the “core concerns” in the relationship.
“The press reports of Indian accusations, at the highest political level, are most unfortunate, especially as the leadership of Pakistan wishes to establish good neighbourly relations with India,” said Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam.
“With reference to news reports attributed to Prime Minister Modi repeating the baseless rhetoric against Pakistan regarding terrorism, Pakistan has consistently condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” said the statement. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India in May was in this spirit and generated a fresh momentum in the bilateral relationship.”
Reacting to Pakistan’s statement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “Terrorism is a real and present danger.” He added that “mere denials” and “selective approach” to terrorism does not work — in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s policy.
Akbaruddin said some of the worst attacks in India have their genesis in Pakistan’s territory. He said the “attack on the Indian Parliament” and the Mumbai terror attacks “can’t just be wished away”.
He said India would convey its concerns through “all means available to us”, hinting at the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries. “Our tool kit is not restricted in any manner,” he said.
In his address to the Army and Air Force troops on his maiden trip to Leh on Tuesday, Modi had said, “It is unfortunate that our neighbour’s attitude… they have lost the power to fight a war but they use proxy war . There has been a process of killing innocent people through this proxy war.”
In its statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office stressed that Pakistan has lost 55,000 lives to terror attacks and is the biggest victim of terrorism. “Our armed forces remain ready to defend the country’s borders and thwart any threat of aggression,” it said. “It would be in the larger interest of regional peace that instead of engaging in a blame game, the two countries should focus on resolving all issues through dialogue and work together to promote friendly and cooperative relations,” said Aslam.
At Tri Nagar, Smriti Irani centered her speech around Modi, with over 10 references in 11-minute extempore.