Sending Islamabad a tough message Monday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj blamed Pakistan for creating conditions unsuitable for any gesture by the Prime Minister or initiative by the Indian government for resumption of the dialogue process.
She said no meeting has so far been scheduled between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan on June 8-9. But sources said that possibility could not be completely ruled out.
Rejecting any “flip-flop” in the government policy on Pakistan, Swaraj, speaking to reporters on the three years of the Modi government, said India is clear that “it wants to hold dialogue, resolve all issues bilaterally without mediation from any third country, organisation or anyone else. But at the same time, terror and talks cannot go together.”
“I had gone to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference and had begun the comprehensive bilateral dialogue process onDecember 9 (in 2015). But do those conditions, which existed on December 9, exist today?” She recalled Modi’s sudden visit to Lahore on December 25 that year, which was followed by the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase, the arrest of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav — who has since been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court — and Pakistan hailing Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani, killed by security forces last year, as a martyr.
Asked about remarks of a Pakistan law officer that Islamabad will take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice after India approached The Hague in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, Swaraj said: “Pakistan cannot take Kashmir issue to ICJ. The Shimla agreement and Lahore declaration are very clear on the Kashmir issue that it can only be resolved bilaterally. The two countries are bound by these bilateral agreements.”
She also rejected claims by US President Donald Trump that India had signed the Paris climate agreement to get “billions” of dollars. “What US President Trump has said is not a reality… we did not sign the Paris Agreement under any pressure, fear or greed for money. We signed because of our commitment to the environment, our Indian ethos. Whether the US remains part of Paris accord or not, India will be part of Paris pact. We did not sign the agreement for financial benefits.”
On the H1B visas, she said while nothing has changed so far in the US, there are concerns and New Delhi is in touch with the US administration as well as lawmakers. “When the Prime Minister goes to the US to meet President Trump, he will raise this issue with him,” she said.
On China’s airspace violation in Uttarakhand, she said while there used to ground-level incursions from both sides since there is no demarcated boundary, this is the first time an airspace incursion has taken place. “I cannot tell you when and where this issue will be raised, but it will be raised with the Chinese government, 101 percent,” she said.
On India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, she said India has asked all friends of China, including Russia, to impress upon them India’s candidature, and expressed the hope that India will become a member one day. “Aaj nahin toh kal, kal nahin toh parson… hum honge kaamyab,” she said.