External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Tuesday maintained that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a part of India and that New Delhi expects to have physical jurisdiction over it one day. “Our position has, is and will always be very clear on PoK, that it is part of India and we expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction over it,” he told reporters.
The government, henceforth, has maintained that talks with Pakistan would be only about PoK and not on Kashmir.
Jaishankar also said that India faces a unique challenge from one neighbour who needs to act normal and take action against cross-border terrorism. Addressing the media on completing 100 days of the Ministry of External Affairs under the Modi 2.0 government, Jaishankar said, “We hope to build a stronger neighbourhood. However, we recognise the unique challenge from one neighbour. Until the issue of cross-border terrorism is addressed successfully, until the neighbour becomes a normal neighbour, it will continue to remain a challenge.”
On India’s position on global stage
While presenting the ministry’s work in the first 100 days, Jaishankar said that India’s narrative on issues like cross-border terror, abrogation of special status under Article 370 in J&K has been articulated to a global audience and that India’s voice is now heard much more on the global stage. “Our ability, appetite to shape the foreign agenda today is much more than before. In big debates like G20, BRICS, Indian views are now heard more clearly,” he said.
On revocation of J&K’s special status
On the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir in August this year vis-a-vis Pakistan’s interference over the issue, Jaishankar said there was no need to “worry” too much beyond a point about what people will say on Kashmir, asserting that India’s position on its internal issues has prevailed and will prevail.
“Beyond a point, don’t worry too much about what people will say on Kashmir. There is complete predictability about my position. My position has been clear since 1972 and my position is not going to change. At the end of the day, it is my issue. On my issue, my position has prevailed and will prevail,” the external affairs minister said in a reply to questions on Pakistan’s attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 by diluting the Article 370 of the Constitution. As a result, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will now become two separate Union Territories (UTs) from October 31.
On Zakir Naik
He also rebutted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not request the extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik when the two leaders met earlier this month. Speaking to the media Jaishankar said Naik’s extradition issue had indeed come up during PM Modi’s meeting with his Malaysian counterpart at Vladivostok in Russia on September 5. “There is an extradition request for Zakir Naik. We want him back and that is what we are working towards,” the Foreign Minister said.
On following multilateral approach
The minister also said that it is India’s endeavour to have the best relationships with all the major powers in the world and that the country is taking advantage of the multilateral summits. He said, since the government has assumed its second term, Prime Minister Modi has visited countries like the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan and Jaishankar himself has made trips to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Nepal.
On Indian diaspora
The external affairs minister said the diaspora is a “unique aspect” of the country’s foreign policy. “The diaspora is, of course, the forte & in many ways somewhat unique aspect of our foreign policy & that is underlined by what is going to be coming up very soon in the United States which is a big diaspora event in partnership with our Indian-American community.”
On India-US relations
He assured that India-US relations are in very good health and have come a long way. “I assure you that relations are in very good health. As the relationship grows, there will be issues. We’ve been talking to the US, my expectation is that the sharper edges will be addressed in the not too distant future,” he said.