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Posted at: Sep 18, 2019, 7:20 AM; last updated: Sep 18, 2019, 11:54 AM (IST)

No talks till Pakistan curbs terror: External Affairs Minister

Sandeep Dikshit
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 17

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today ruled out any talks with Pakistan till it turned its back on terrorism. India is committed to a generous, non-reciprocal relationship with all its neighbours barring “one” which will remain a “unique challenge” until cross-border terrorism is “successfully addressed and until that neighbour becomes a normal neighbour’’.

The minister said: “It is ironic that while Pakistan’s ill-treatment of minorities continues, it waxes eloquently on J&K.” He was addressing a press conference here on 100 days of the second Modi government.

SAARC will continue to suffer collateral damage because it is all about regional cooperation and Pakistan denies India the most favoured nation status as well as connectivity. Despite the frayed bilateral relationship, Jaishankar was confident that India would do its bit by completing all pending work on the Kartarpur project before its scheduled opening in the first week of November. 

Pakistan made a similar commitment on Monday. He explained away bilateral irritants with the US as part and parcel of a burgeoning relationship. On China, he said there would be no rethink on India staying away from the “One Belt, One Road” project. However, both PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were committed towards conversations like the one that took place in Wuhan in 2018 with the next one scheduled this year in India.

Jaishankar dismissed concerns over criticism on the human rights aspect in J&K from international organisations and personalities, including US Senators and Congressmen. “Beyond a point, don’t worry too much about what people will say on Kashmir. There is a complete predictability about my (India’s) position. My position has been clear since 1972 and my position is not going to change. At the end of the day, it is my issue. On my issue, my position has prevailed and will prevail,” he asserted.

He advised Pakistan to draw lessons from US President Donald Trump confirming his attendance at the “Howdy Modi’’ rally in Houston on September 22 along with PM Modi and said despite blips, especially on trade-related issues, there was bipartisan consensus in both US and India to continue strengthening it.

Jaishankar began his press conference with an opening statement that proclaimed a much more dynamic foreign policy based on economics and a project-oriented approach underpinned by strong linkages between national security and foreign policy goals.   

He did not seem to mind India’s exclusion from confabulations on the future of Afghanistan and was confident of  Indian diplomacy making key actors factor-in its views and interests.


Refutes Mahathir on issue of radical  Naik’s extradition

New Delhi, September 17

Refuting the claim by Malaysian PM Mohd Mahathir in an interview that PM Narendra Modi had not raised the issue of extradition of radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik when the two met in Vladivostok earlier this month, the External Affairs Minister said India had made the request in January 2018 and since then had been “relentlessly pursuing the issue.”

The minister said according to his information, the issue of Naik’s “extradition did come up at Vladivostok. I want to make it clear we want Zakir Naik back.’’ The Malaysian PM today claimed his Indian counterpart did not request for Naik’s extradition. Jaishankar backed Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s briefing of September 5 during which he had said PM Modi did raise the issue of Naik’s extradition with Mahathir and both had resolved to ask their officials to examine the matter.

However, the nonagenarian Malaysian leader told a local radio station: “I met Modi. He didn’t ask me for this man. At the same time, he was critical of Naik’s racially loaded comments that are a taboo in Malaysia. Well, he’s not a national of this country. He has been given, I think by the previous government, permanent residence status. A permanent resident isn’t supposed to make any comment on this country’s systems and politics. He has breached that.”

Naik fled India in 2016 after he was charged with money-laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.

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