India will continue to act firmly and decisively against cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, a senior diplomatic official told the United States Security Council on Tuesday.

Kajal Bhat, counsellor in the country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, made the statement during an open debate on “peace and security through preventive diplomacy”.

“India desires normal neighbourly relations with all countries, including Pakistan, and is committed to addressing outstanding issues, if any, bilaterally and peacefully in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration,” the Indian representative said.

However, Bhat added that any meaningful dialogue can only take place in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence. “The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere,” she said. “Till then, India will continue to take firm and decisive steps to respond to cross-border terrorism.”

The Indian representative was responding to remarks made by Munir Akram, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, earlier in the debate. Akram had said that it should be a high priority for the Security Council and the United Nations Secretary General to promote a “fair and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute” and to end the “massive HR [human rights] violations taking place in India-occupied Kashmir”.

In response, Bhat said that this was not the first time that Pakistan’s representative “misused platforms provided by the UN to propagate false and malicious propaganda” against India. She alleged that Akram was trying to divert attention from the “sad state of his country where terrorists enjoy a free pass while the lives of ordinary people, especially those belonging to the minority communities, are turned upside down”.

The Indian representative said that Pakistan has a policy of harbouring, aiding and actively supporting terrorists. “It holds the ignoble record of hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN Security Council,” she said.

Bhat reiterated India’s position that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh “were, are and will always be” an integral and inalienable part of the country. “This includes the areas that are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan,” she said.