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Talks and terror cannot go together, Sushma on Pakistan

IANS | New Delhi |

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said that India's roadmap vis-a-vis Pakistan is clear — that terror and talks cannot go together.

The Minister blamed Pakistan for derailing the bilateral dialogue by continuing its support to terrorism and meddling in Kashmir.

Replying to a discussion on India's foreign policy in the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said: "If you speak of roadmap, we had prepared a roadmap. It was that of peace, friendship and Pakistan's stability. But roadmap cannot be implemented by one side alone."

"Terror and talks cannot go together. This is the roadmap. The day when they stop terror, talks will start," she said.

Sushma Swaraj said that relations with Pakistan deteriorated not after the Pathankot airbase attack in 2016, but after then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called militant commander Burhan Wani a freedom fighter and a martyr after he was killed in a shootout with Indian security forces last June.

"Even after Pathankot things did not deteriorate. It was for the first time they did not go into denial like they used to do, and said they will cooperate in the probe," she said.

"Things deteriorated only after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called Burhan Wani a freedom fighter and a martyr," she said.

Defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to land in Lahore on way back from Kabul on December 25, 2015, Sushma Swaraj said it was part of a peace initiative India had started. 

"Our Prime Minister going to Lahore on way from Kabul was part of this initiative. Everything is in public domain. It was Nawaz Sharif's birthday on December 25. Modi wished him, and he asked Modi to come to make a stopover in Pakistan. Without caring for protocol the Prime Minister went there.

"You cannot say that we did not extend the hand of friendship with Pakistan," she added.

She recalled that when she went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference on December 9, 2015, Nawaz Sharif sat with her and asked Sartaj Aziz to start a dialogue process on the way she had proposed.

"In that bilateral meeting it was decided that Secretary level talks will happen. We gave it the name of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue so that no doubts should remain. It was decided then that Foreign Secretaries should thrash out the modalities," Sushma Swaraj said.