Hardening its stance on resuming dialogue with Pakistan, India Thursday announced it had set a five-point agenda for talks on terrorism in a letter submitted a day earlier by Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry.
New Delhi asked Islamabad to end incitement to violence and terrorism from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, stop cross-border terrorism, detain and prosecute terrorists like Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, deny a safe haven to fugitives like Mumbai underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and close terror camps where terrorists like Bahadur Ali have been trained.
India also proposed discussing “vacation of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of J&K” — a reference to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir — and sought a briefing from the Pakistan Foreign Secretary on the progress in the 26/11 trial in Pakistan and its probe into the Pathankot airbase attack.
These red lines form part of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s letter to his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary.
The Pakistan Foreign Ministry, which did not offer any comment on the letter, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi crossed the “red line” by talking about Balochistan and said it will “forcefully” raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly session next month.
According to a PTI report from Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, referring to Modi’s remarks on Balochistan and PoK in his Independence Day speech, said: “It is the violation of the UN Charter… He (Modi) crossed the red line by talking about Balochistan.”
In his letter, Jaishankar recalled “Pakistan’s long history of violence and terrorism against India” — from 1947 to the 1965 war and the Kargil war. He reminded Pakistan of the past commitments of its leaders and of not allowing Pakistani soil to be used for anti-India activities by terrorists.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Jaishankar had conveyed he was accepting his counterpart’s invitation to visit Islamabad but discussions should focus first on the “more pressing aspects” of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Foreign Secretary’s letter listed steps Islamabad needed to take: “Cessation of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan aimed at Jammu and Kashmir, ending incitement to violence and terrorism from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, detaining and prosecuting internationally recognised Pakistani terrorist leaders who have been publicly active recently in exhorting and supporting such violence in that state, closing down of Pakistani terrorist camps where terrorists such as Bahadur Ali, recently arrested in Jammu and Kashmir, continue to be trained, denying safe haven, shelters and support to terrorists in Pakistan who have escaped Indian law.”
“Foreign Secretary also said that he looks forward to discussing with his counterpart the earliest possible vacation of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Swarup said, referring to PoK.
“The world is aware that Pakistan has a long history of violence and terrorism against India, as also in the broader region. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been its particular target. This record began with the Government of Pakistan sending armed raiders into Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 and was repeated in 1965. More than three decades later, displaying a similar attitude, military personnel were infiltrated across the Line of Control in Kargil in 1999,” he said.
“This approach to India was reflected in support for terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir that continues to the present day. These acts were initially denied by the Government of Pakistan and attributed to local population, only to be admitted later by Pakistan’s leaders who directed and organised such cross-border attacks on India, and assaults on the local people.”
“The Government of Pakistan is aware that the framework for interactions between India and Pakistan is stipulated by the Simla Agreement of July 1972, wherein President Z A Bhutto agreed that the two countries resolve to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations, as also the Lahore Declaration of February 1999 wherein Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated Pakistan’s determination to implement the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit. They are also based on the assurance given by President Musharraf in January 2004 that he will not permit any territory under Pakistan’s control to be used to support terrorism in any manner,” he said.
Asked about the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson’s statement that Prime Minister Modi crossed the “red line” by talking about Balochistan, Swarup said: “I find this an extraordinary remark from a senior functionary of Pakistan that recognises no red lines in its own diplomacy. Pakistan’s record of cross-border terrorism and infiltration is at the heart of the problems in the region today. And this is not just India’s view. You can ask some other countries in the region too.”
On Modi’s Balochistan remark, Swarup said several people from Balochistan and PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan had messaged him, had been writing to him following his comments at the all-party meeting on August 12 in which he had flagged the atrocities being committed on the people of Balochistan.
“Prime Minister had been thanked by these people for flagging their cause at the all-party meeting which represents all political segments in India. Prime Minister was sufficiently moved by these messages of gratitude to share it with the people of India in his Independence Day address,” he said.