The external affairs ministry today rejected suggestions that the recent repatriation of prisoners between India and Pakistan could be linked with the resumption of stalled talks and asserted that Islamabad had not made any efforts to curb terrorism. External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said India has made 52 requests for consular access to Hamid Nihal Ansari, who is in a Pakistani jail, but it has not been granted. Ansari had crossed over to Pakistan from Afghanistan in 2012 and then went missing. He was later arrested and tried by a Pakistani military court, which pronounced him guilty of espionage. Replying to a question on whether the repatriation of prisoners between India and Pakistan was indicative of any thaw in ties and may lead to resumption of stalled talks, Kumar said, “It is not right to extend it to that level. There is regular exchange of prisoners from both sides. So, we should not take it to that conclusion.”
Kumar’s remarks came a day after India repatriated to Pakistan nine fishermen and four civilian prisoners along with a child. India-Pakistan dialogue hit a roadblock after the Pathankot terror strike by a Pakistan-based terror outfit in 2016. Asked about Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed’s activities, the spokesperson said the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind is an international terrorist and it is the responsibility of the Pakistan government not to give him space to carry out strikes against other countries. He also asserted that India believes that Pakistan has not put any efforts to curb terrorism or dismantle terror infrastructure in its territory. On reports from Pakistan that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had offered mediation on Kashmir during his recent visit to the subcontinent, the spokesperson said there was no truth in it and the issue never figured during the meetings Tillerson had in India.