Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday demanded that Pakistan hand over Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to India. She said India refuses to negotiate with Pakistan until its creates an atmosphere free of terror.
The terror outfit had claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 security personnel were killed.
Swaraj was speaking about the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s foreign policy at an event in New Delhi. Her statement comes hours after China again blocked the move to blacklist Masood Azhar at the United Nations Security Council.
“We waited for 10 days for Pakistan to take action against Jaish-e-Mohammed after the Pulwama attacks,” Swaraj said. “But they did not do a thing. When our Indian Air Force conducted specific strikes on the Jaish’s terror camp, you retaliated. On whose behalf did you [Pakistan], retaliate?”
She was referring to India’s air strike across the Line of Control the area in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.
She accused Pakistan of lying about taking action against terror groups operating out of its territory and repeated the Centre’s stance that Islamabad funds terror groups. “Your foreign minister claimed that Azhar was in the country,” she said. “A few days later your Army official said the terror chief is not even in the country. You [Pakistan] said Osama bin Laden was not in your country too. How long will you lie about these matters?”
Her statement was a reference to the United States operation where Laden was killed in Pakistan’s Abbottabad in a military operation in 2011.
She alleged that Islamabad creates terror groups, funds them and then avenges attacks against them. “If [Pakistan Prime Minister] Imran Khan is a true statesman and is so generous and wants peace, give us Masood Azhar,” Swaraj said. “Let us see his generosity.”
Swaraj added that with her invitation to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation this year, India had avenged its humiliation from 50 years ago, when she said India had not been allowed to participate in the meet after its delegates had reached the venue, because Pakistan had protested. “But now, 50 years later, it was India that was the honoured guest, while Pakistan’s seat was empty,” reports quoted her as saying.