Pakistan should draw a red line whether it wants to talk to the government of India or those who want to break India, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday asking it to make a “conscious” choice.
India, he said, was “ready to speak to Pakistan” and is “willing to normalise the relationship” but “then there are a few red lines”.
“We create the environment, we fix up a dialogue at the level of Foreign Secretaries, our Foreign Secretary is to visit Pakistan (and) literally a few hours before that they invite the separatists for a dialogue to their High Commission (in New Delhi).
“So I think a new red line has to be drawn in Pakistan to reconsider this question that who they want to speak to? Do they want to speak to the Government of India or they want to speak to those who want to break India,” he said at the India Economic Summit.
“So unless Pakistan makes the conscious choice, a dialogue with Pakistan will not be possible,” he said.
India in August called off a scheduled foreign secretary-level talks after Pakistan’s envoy met Kashmir separatists on the eve of the dialogue.
Referring to ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the Line of Control, he said the consequences of its “misadventure” like firing on civilian population and uprooting of village, “would be an unaffordable cost for Pakistan.”
Jaitley, who is also the Finance Minister, said New Delhi has given three messages to Pakistan.
“The first is that we want to talk. So we invited them. The second is we send a foreign secretary there. But they must decide whether they are ready to speak to our foreign secretary or to speak to those who want to break India.
The third is that this kind of a situation in international border cannot go on.
“That’s not an environment for a dialogue… India would like to normalise the relationship. But whether Pakistan wants to normalise the relationship depends on Pakistan,” he said.
Elaborating on steps to deal with corruption and crony capitalism, Jaitley said that those who administer the country would have to change their mindset.
“We are attempting (to change the mindset)”, he said, adding that the decisions taken by the new government in the last five-six months were aimed at eliminating any possible discretion.
Noting that crony capitalism was witnessed in the past allocation of natural resources like coal blocks and spectrum, Jaitley said the new government came out with an ordinance on coal with a view to end discretion and introduce fairness in allocation of the fuel.
“The actual users (of coal) get it by a process of e-auction and thereafter if the government desires, it will open it up for commercial mining. I can tell you with regard to other minerals we are about to undertake a similar reforms,” the Minister said.
When asked whether he was satisfied with the pace of reforms, Jaitley said, “I am quite satisfied with the beginning that we have made…in the next few months … I think the effects within the country would also start showing.”
Admitting there were challenges, the Minister said, the country needed to doggedly pursue the reforms agenda.
“There are bound to be some hurdles, one need not get unnecessarily upset about them. There are a lot within the present political framework and the government’s framework that can be done…but one thing that is clearly borne in mind is that no steps should be taken that sends contrary signals.
“Therefore with all kinds of ideas, big and small, one has to pursue in one direction and that’s what the present government is trying to do and I am quite certain that its only a matter of time that the ground results start reflecting on the cumulative effects of these steps,” he added.