An India envoy on Thursday said the country will not hold talks with Pakistan until it gives up its state policy of supporting terrorism, PTI reported. The statement came hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance swept the Lok Sabha elections.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s ambassador to the United States, said the onus of ensuring the success of peace talks was on Pakistan, and emphasised that the future of bilateral ties would improve once Pakistan stopped using terrorism as a means of achieving its objectives. “I think the government will be within its mandate to start a better relationship,” Shringla told a group of American reporters after the results were declared.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated Narendra Modi on Thursday and said he looked forward to working with him for the progress of South Asia. Modi responded to Khan, saying he always prioritised peace and development in the region. On April 10, Khan had said that he saw a better chance of peace talks with India if the BJP returned to power.
Shringla said India could no longer deal with Pakistan’s “double handed policy” of supporting terrorism and talking about peace.
Pointing to India’s excellent relationship with neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, Shringla said: “I think it is the desire of every Indian to have good relations with Pakistan.” He also said Modi’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas [with all, development for all]” slogan included India’s neighbors.
Relations between India and Pakistan nosedived after militants belonging to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit killed 40 security personnel in Pulwama on February 14. India retaliated by targeting a Jaish camp in Balakot in Pakistan with airstrikes.
On Wednesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his country had delivered a “message of peace” by opening the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India. He also condemned terrorism in all its forms at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers in Bishkek.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who also attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting, said the “wounds of Pulwama attack were still raw” and the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka had made India determined to fight terrorism.