India on Tuesday said that Pakistan’s move to conduct elections in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) was an attempt to “camouflage the forcible occupation” of the region, hours after Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaz Aziz said that Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent statement on “neutralising terrorist through terrorist” confirmed Islamabad’s apprehensions regarding Indian involvement in terrorism in the country.
Responding to questions on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on the “principle” of an atmosphere free of violence and terror, Aziz said “peace is a multi-dimensional process”.
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“When India keeps violating ceasefire at the LoC and the Working Boundary, indulges in worst human rights violations against helpless Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir, and undertakes subversive activities in Pakistan, then asking Pakistan to create an environment free of violence only sounds ironical,” a Pakistan Foreign Ministry statement quoted him as saying.
With regard to the Mumbai terror attack trial, Aziz said it was proceeding in the court of law.
He added: “Indian concern over slow progress calls into question their own reluctance to cooperate by not allowing the Judicial Commission’s visit to India until September 2013. Pakistan has its concerns too. Information on the trial of Indian Military’s active service officers named by RSS member Swami Aseemanand, who was the mastermind, has not been shared. Scores of Pakistanis lost lives in the Samjhauta terrorist attack. Samjhauta happened two years before Mumbai attacks,” he said.
On India’s concern over the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, Aziz said: “The mega project is all about regional connectivity and economic development and prosperity of the common people of the entire region. There is dichotomy in the Indian statements on their pronouncements on the importance of the regional connectivity for development and their negative comments about the Corridor.”
Responding to Aziz’s statements, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) fired a salvo on the upcoming elections in Gilgit and Baltistan.
“The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir which includes regions of Gilgit and Baltistan is an integral part of India. The election… on June 8 under the so called ‘Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self Government Order’ is an attempt by Pakistan to camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
Swarup also expressed concern at “continued efforts” by Pakistan to “deny the people of the region their political rights” and efforts to “absorb these territories”.
“The fact that a Federal Minister of Pakistan is also the ‘Governor of Gilgit Baltistan’ speaks for itself,” he said.
On May 21, Parrikar had said at a conference in New Delhi, “If any country… is planning something against my country, I will take proactive steps… Whether it is diplomatic, whether it is pressure tactics or whether it is using the — woh usko bolte hain na, Marathi mein ek ye hain—kaante se kaanta nikalte hain—Hindi mein bhi rahega – you have to neutralise terrorist through terrorist only. Why can’t we do it? We should do it…Why my soldier has to do it all the time?”