India on Wednesday voiced anguish over China’s move to block sanctions against Pakistan-based Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar. “Terrorism is the snake that bites the hand that feeds it and quite decisively and you can see the situation in the neighbouring country,’’ said Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar. “There is such instability and uncertainty in that nation. These are self-inflicted wounds. And we hope that China, as a responsible and matured nation, will understand that double standards are simply self-defeating, even suicidal.’’
Akbar noted that China has its own terrorism problem. “We hope and we are sure that China can be persuaded to see the depth and evil of this menace. And we on our side are resolved that we shall not stop, never stop saying that we will continue to point out the absurdity of the UNSC’s decision… on Azhar.’’
Akbar, who was addressing a press meet with his ministerial colleague, V K Singh, made it clear that talks with Pakistan cannot happen under a “spray of bullets”. He hoped that “Pakistan’s friends” will make it see reason.
But Akbar underlined that engagement with Pakistan should continue and that “talk of inflammation does not necessarily help” as neighbours cannot be changed. He said this while replying to a question about BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s remarks pointing out futility of talking to Pakistan.
Akbar quoted former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to emphasise his point. “We deal with them with eyes open but we do not deal with them with minds closed,’’ he said. “We have always believed that the way forward is peaceful dialogue. Let there be peace, there will be a dialogue.’’
He recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to restart the peace process with Pakistan since the day he swore in. Akbar added that the intentions have not changed. “But the issue that disrupted that effort in the beginning… persists. You cannot have a peaceful conversation under the shadow of violence…’’ he said. “Terrorism is not conducive to conversation. As the Prime Minister said once and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said as often as she could, talks and terrorism do not go together. They cannot go together. The people, who have indulged in terrorism, have to stop this evil and then we can take the rational path forward.’’
Akbar rejected suggestions that the surgical strikes against Pakistan had no impact. “One of the most important development has been the manner in which the message of terrorism, which was personally enunciated by the Prime Minister and all levels of government after that, has been heard across the world,’’ he said. “Everywhere there is absolutely near consensus that terrorism in all forms is unacceptable. The sponsorship of terrorism is as heinous as terrorism.’’ He hoped that the world will come out with a stronger criticism of terror in the new year.