New Delhi, May 31:
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday denied any “flip-flop” in India’s policy towards Pakistan and said talks with the neighbour can only be held in an atmosphere of “sadbhavna” or goodwill and without the involvement of a third party.
Addressing a mega press conference here on the completion of the NDA government’s one year in office, Sushma Swaraj said there were no talks planned with Pakistan as of now and also discounted media reports about cricket diplomacy being launched between the two countries.
Answering a question on perceived wavering regarding its stance on Pakistan, she said the three ministries of home, defence and external affairs have different roles.
“If there is firing on the border, the home ministry will not sit quiet but speak strongly, the defence ministry will speak in a similar vein; but it is the ministry of external affairs’ role to see the positives in the entire relationship… that is our role. There is no flip-flop,” she said in Hindi.
She said that since the time Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to India a year ago to attend the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held talks with him, the government has based its policy for talks with Pakistan on three principles — which it has often reiterated.
“We are ready to resolve all issues in a peaceful manner through dialogue. The dialogue will be between two sides, no third party will be there or present in the talks; and talks cannot be held in the shadow of violence and terrorism, only in the atmosphere of goodwill,” she asserted.
“There is no change in our policy, we have told this to Pakistan always,” she said.
Sushma Swaraj also said that with the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi out of jail, there can be no talks with Pakistan.
“If Lakhvi is outside and he is free and Pakistan thinks we will speak, will India ever accept that,” she asked.
On India’s efforts to seek UN Security Council sanctions against Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin — which are facing a roadblock from China, the minister said New Delhi has told Beijing that the terrorism targeting India and China comes from the same source and both should work together to tackle the scourge.
“We told China that we are not the only victim of terrorism, and China is also a victim of terror. We both are the victims of only one source of terrorism,” she said, adding that India asked China to keep this factor in mind while voting in the UNSC.
She said any future engagement with Pakistan will be based on the three principles she had mentioned.
To a question on how India has agreed to launch cricket diplomacy with Pakistan, Sushma Swaraj said no decision has been taken on resuming cricketing ties with Pakistan.
Asked about the government’s stand on Pakistan’s links with Kashmiri separatist group Hurriyat, Sushma Swaraj said the Hurriyat leaders always seek appointments to meet the Pakistani envoy in Delhi.
But last August, ahead of the foreign secretary-level talks, the Pakistani envoy had “invited” the Hurriyat leaders for a meeting with him, which India objected to, leading to cancellation of the talks.
“They (Hurriyat) did not seek a meeting, the Pakistani envoy invited them… and just four days ahead of the foreign secretary level talks. We said how can you invite them at this stage? That means that you consider them part of the official talks; and that is why we cancelled the talks. We will never accept a third party in talks,” she said. (IANS)