Ruling out any substantive bilateral talks between visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and Indian leaders on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference, which begins in Amritsar on Sunday, India on Thursday said it will never accept continuing cross-border terrorism as the “new normal” in the relationship. “We have not received any request from Pakistan for a bilateral meeting. India has always been open to talks but obviously it cannot be that talks take place in an atmosphere of continued terrorism. India will never accept continued terrorism as the new normal of the bilateral relationship. Let me make that very clear,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
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On Donald Trump’s conversation with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, he said there was “sort of a rejoinder” to Pakistan’s statement by the US. He also said that terrorism is the “most outstanding of all outstanding issues” between India and Pakistan, and India would welcome a conversation between US and Pakistan on the issue. Two days after the Nagrota terror attack, he said, “We are awaiting detailed information on the specifics of the Nagrota attack before we decide on the next steps. But I do wish to emphasise that the government takes this incident very seriously and will do what it feels is required for our national security.”
Responding to questions on Pakistan’s role, the MEA spokesperson articulated India’s hardened position in the wake of the recent attacks. “Pakistan is a country which has a long record of carrying out cross-border terrorism which it regards as an instrument of state policy. This puts Pakistan at odds with the rest of the international community. Over the years, India has suffered many heinous terrorist attacks which have been supported and sponsored by Pakistan. ”
“The attack on the Indian Parliament, the Kaluchak massacre, the 2005 Delhi bombings, the attack on the CRPF camp in Rampur in 2008, the Mumbai terror attack, the attack on the Pathankot air base, and the attack on the Army camp in Uri are all reminders of the continuing complicity of Pakistan in sponsoring cross-border terrorism of which Nagrota is the latest example. So, it is evident that it is not a matter of a week or a month. It is in fact a challenge that we have faced over many years, indeed over many decades,” he said.
When asked about the surgical strikes, he said, “It was our assessment at that point in time there was an imminent threat based on hard intelligence about the location of armed terrorists who were ready to infiltrate across the LoC and carry out terrorist activities on our side. This imminent threat was successfully neutralised through the surgical strikes. We should not look only at what happened but also at what did not happen, what was prevented through successful neutralisation.”
On whether a new chapter will begin with change of guard at the helm of Pakistan Army, he said, “Change of Army Chief is internal matter of Pakistan, but we will judge Pakistan by its behaviour and its track record.” On Pakistan suggesting a joint probe in Uri strike, which India maintains was carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists, Swarup said this has happened in the past also and instead of acting on the evidence provided by India, Islamabad engages in “pure propaganda ploys”.