External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said India is committed to address all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including Kashmir, but the onus is on that country to create an atmosphere conducive for bilateral talks. “India is committed to address all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, bilaterally and through peaceful means in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. Such a dialogue to be meaningful necessarily requires an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence,” Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha.
“The (Indian) government’s consistent policy has been that it desires good neighbourly relations with Pakistan… (but) the onus is on Pakistan to create a conducive atmosphere for a constructive and substantive comprehensive bilateral dialogue,” the Minister added. Swaraj said India’s “principled and consistent” position has been that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union and that a part of the state is under “forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan”.
In a written reply to another question, the Minister denied relations with Pakistan were tense in the last three years. “It is not true that bilateral relations between India and Pakistan have been very tense during the last three years. In fact, during 2014 and 2015, there was considerable improvement in bilateral relations,” she said. Swaraj said during her December 2015 visit to Islamabad, both sides agreed to a meeting at the Foreign Secretaries level to work out the modalities for a comprehensive dialogue.
However, the terror attack at the Pathankot airbase in Punjab in January 2016, continued support to cross-border terrorism and ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces, and more recently, the announcement of death penalty to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav haves “prevented the forward movement in bilateral relations”, she said.