Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar on Friday said continuing terrorism from Pakistan makes it difficult to have normal ties with the country, PTI reported. He was speaking at an online event hosted by the Asia Society.

“Terrorism from Pakistan remains publicly acknowledged by their government as a policy that they are justifying,” he said when asked about India’s ties with Pakistan. “So it makes it very hard to conduct normal relations with them.”

Jaishankar also said that Pakistan does not have normal trade relations with India and has not given it the Most Favoured Nation status. “We don’t have a normal visa relationship, they are very restrictive on that score,” he said. “They have blocked connectivity between India and Afghanistan and from Afghanistan to India.” Jaishankar said “normal neighbours” do not commit terrorism.

The external affairs minister also said that Kashmir was an internal matter of India. “The external boundaries of India remain what they are today as opposed to what they were five years ago or 20 years ago, 40 years ago,” he said. “So as far as we are concerned, our point to them is that this is something which is internal to us.”

Asked about the revocation of Kashmir’s special status, Jaishankar said every country has the right to change its administrative jurisdictions. “Neighbours get impacted only if your external boundaries change. That has not happened in this case,” he said.

India-Pakistan war of words

India and Pakistan have been recently engaged in a war of words on international forums. India on Wednesday criticised Pakistan for raising the Kashmir matter at a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations, saying that Pakistan is a “globally-acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism”, which pretends to be a victim. India accused Pakistan of committing genocide in South Asia (Bangladesh) 39 years ago (before and during the 1971 India-Pakistan War). India said Pakistan had become known as the epicentre of terrorism and was hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the United Nations.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had, without naming India, claimed that a “state in South Asia” had been targeting its religious minority groups to foment division and hatred.

India had on Thursday rubbished a claim by an advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that it had sent messages to Islamabad for talks. Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said there could be no dialogue with a country that supports terrorism and whose leadership spews hate speech.

Moeed Yusuf, special assistant to Khan on national security and strategic policy, had said that New Delhi had sent messages to Islamabad with “a desire for conversation” but declined to give details. However, he said that India must free all political prisoners in Kashmir and make Kashmiris a party to the talks, if they have to be held.

India and Pakistan have not held official dialogue since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which killed 166 people.