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Dialogue with Pakistan is a new beginning: Sushma tells Parliament

Our Bureau Agencies New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on December 14, 2015

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Foreign Minister briefs Parliament, says NSAs to discuss terror; mum on MFN status for India, Modi’s Pak visit

The ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ with Pakistan heralds a “new beginning”, External Affairs Ministers Sushma Swaraj told Parliament on Monday.

“The new (Comprehensive Bilateral) dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region … The new dialogue with Pakistan has twin aims of removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern, and at the same time, of exploring and establishing cooperative ties,” Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha, a week after her visit to Islamabad.

Swaraj made it clear that during the meeting between the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan in Bangkok, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir being affected the most due to terrorism and cross-border firing was discussed.

“Discussions between the two NSAs in that meeting were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They focused on peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control, and Jammu & Kashmir – the State which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LoC,” she said.

The NSA-level meeting in Bangkok, which happened between India’s Ajit Doval and Pakistan’s Nasser Khan Janjua, was an outcome of the meeting between Modi and Sharif during the recent climate summit in Paris.

Reiterating India’s “commitment to good neighbourly ties with Pakistan”, Swaraj said the Centre had met it clear to Pakistan at the outset that both sides will discuss “all” outstanding issues.

“The underlying sentiment, on which I am confident that this House concurs fully, was that the continued estrangement of two neighbours was a hurdle to the realisation of our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region. At the same time, there was also a sharp awareness that the principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed,” she added.

She said during her meetings with Prime Minister Sharif and his foreign policy advisor Sartaj Aziz both neighbours had agreed to condemn “condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace”. “There we dwelt on the need for Pakistan to expedite the Mumbai terrorist attacks trial. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite its early conclusion,” she added.

As many as 13 MPs raised questions on the issue. While Swaraj answered some, she refused to comment on Modi’s visit to Islamabad in 2016 for the SAARC Summit. Swaraj also denied claims that Thailand was being made a mediator to India-Pakistan ties.

Replying to another question on how India planned to deal with Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, she clarified that the matter would now be handled at the NSA level. “Terrorism has gone up around the world. And in the context of India-Pakistan ties, it is only the NSAs who will discuss the matter,” she said.

Refuting claims of a “flip-flop” in dealing with Pakistan, she said it was imperative to have a cordial relationship with the neighbour for the larger cause of the region. Swaraj was, however, silent on the issue of Pakistan reciprocating on the issue of most-favoured nation (MFN) status and creating a relaxed visa regime between both countries.

Published on December 14, 2015
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