Sushma to Pak: Talks & terror cannot go together

RSTV Bureau

Sushma_UN2India has thoroughly rejected Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s 4-point formula for peace in Kashmir. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that Pakistan needs to address just the issue of terror for dialogue on all outstanding matters to begin between the two nations.

“Talks and terror cannot go together”, Swaraj said while making it clear that India “remains open to dialogue” but terrorism emanating from Pakistan hamper normalisation of bilateral relations.

“Yesterday the Prime Minister of Pakistan proposed what he termed as a four-point new peace initiative. I would like to respond. We do not need four points, we need just one – give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk,” Swaraj said in her 25-minute speech before the 193-member world body.

Asserting that “none of us can accept that terrorism is a legitimate instrument of statecraft,” she pressed the world community to show zero tolerance towards it and ensure that countries which provide finances, safe havens and arms to terrorists “pay a heavy price” for it.

Swaraj also spoke about how the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks were roaming free and she also raised the issue of Pakistan’s “illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Sushma’s speech comes a day after Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif raised the Kashmir issue at the UN.

“Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs on all issues connected to terrorism and an early meeting of our Directors General of Military Operations to address the situation on the border…If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue,” Sushma said.

Sharif had proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India at the UNGA which included demilitarisation of Kashmir, “unconditional and mutual withdrawal” of forces from Siachen, restraint by both countries from “use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances” and formalisation of the 2003 border ceasefire.

India-Pakistan ties suffered a major blow in August 2015, when NSA-level talks between the two sides were cancelled over difference in agenda. India insisted that the talks should focus on terror but Pakistan wanted to discuss the Kashmir issue, with the Kashmiri separatists as a party to the talks. Both these issues, India said, were not acceptable.

Meanwhile, PM Modi praised Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the UN.

“Just spoke to @SushmaSwaraj ji & congratulated her for the excellent speech at the @UN. A perfect articulation of key global issues,” tweeted the PM.

(With inputs from PTI)