New Delhi, Apr 28 (PTI) Over a fortnight after Shehbaz Sharif became Pakistan’s new prime minister, India on Thursday said there is no change in its approach to engaging with the neighbouring country, asserting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror for talks.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said that the terror attack in Karachi only underlined the need for all countries to take an “undifferentiated” position against terrorism and that India condemns all such attacks.
Bagchi strongly rejected Sharif’s comments describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Kashmir as “staged” and said Pakistan has no locus standi to comment on it.
Asked about the terror attack in the University of Karachi, Bagchi said India’s stand against all forms of terrorism has been “steadfast”.
“Our stance against all forms of terrorism anywhere has been steadfast and consistent. We have been condemning (them). This particular incident only underlines the need for all countries to take an undifferentiated position against terrorism,” he said at a weekly media briefing.
Three Chinese language teachers and their local driver were killed in a suicide bombing at the University of Karachi on Tuesday.
Asked whether India’s position on engaging with Pakistan is changing, Bagchi said there is no change to it.
“Our approach is very simple. There should be an atmosphere free of terrorism; then only talks can take place. There was an exchange of courtesy letters between the two prime ministers. It is our legitimate demand that there is an environment free of terror,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson said without such an environment, talks cannot take place, adding “there is no change in our approach”.
After Sharif became the prime minister, Modi wrote a letter to him conveying that India desired constructive ties with Pakistan.
In his reply, Sharif pitched for “meaningful” engagement between the two countries.
Asked about Sharif’s describing Modi’s visit to Kashmir on Sunday as “staged”, Bagchi wondered what it really meant.
“On the issue of the prime minister’s visit to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, I don’t understand the word ‘staged’. It seems to indicate that the visit didn’t take place and we are trying to show that it did,” he said.
“It is very clear at the reception that he got and the visuals you saw and the development projects that he inaugurated and the changes that have happened on the ground, it is a very clear answer to any questions that may be raised about the prime minister’s visit,” Bagchi said.
“In any case, Pakistan has no locus to talk about it from this perspective on what’s happening in Jammu and Kashmir and I answered it in the context of somebody questioning the visit itself,” he said.
India has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.
The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
The relations further deteriorated after India in August 2019 announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories.