Ever since August 5, when it ended J&K’s special status, the government has maintained that talks with Pakistan will now be only on PoK and not on Kashmir. Defence minister Rajnath Singh was the first to make PoK a bilateral dialogue issue after Pakistan sought to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
Setting the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US where the J&K issue is expected to dominate the discourse, external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is only “talking” and not doing anything to act against cross-border terrorism. He said Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a part of India and New Delhi expects to have physical jurisdiction over it one day. “Our position has, is and will always be very clear on PoK, that it is part of India and we expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction over it,” Jaishankar told reporters while speaking on the first 100 days of the new Modi government.
Ever since August 5, when it ended J&K’s special status, the government has maintained that talks with Pakistan will now be only on PoK and not on Kashmir. Defence minister Rajnath Singh was the first to make PoK a bilateral dialogue issue after Pakistan sought to internationalise the Kashmir issue. Flanked by foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale and MEA’s official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, the external affairs minister said Article 370 is an “internal issue”, while the issue is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. “Show me anywhere in the world where a country openly uses terrorism as part of their foreign policy.”
Quoting Prime Minister Modi, Jaishankar said that Pakistan has developed a reputation for “international terrorism” and India has a reputation for information technology — both acronymed IT. He said “not just Pakistan” but “the whole world” will be watching US President Donald Trump share the stage with the Prime Minister at an Indian diaspora event in Houston, which reflects the state of India-US relationship. He said there is no need to “worry” too much beyond a point about what people will say on Kashmir, asserting that India’s position on its internal issues has prevailed and will prevail.
“Beyond a point, don’t worry too much about what people will say on Kashmir. There is a complete predictability about my 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 said. Responding to statements of US Congress members on Kashmir, he said what they say is not a function of their knowledge. “If I were to meet the US Congressmen, I would tell them that you have confronted terrorism, you have confronted separatism… what was your response. Ask yourself.” He then cited US steps towards affirmative action on race and gender. He said the international community understands India’s position. He repeatedly emphasised the “temporary” nature of Article 370. He also said this provision had led to “lack of development”, which had led to “separatism”, and that had led to Pakistan sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir.
“So, here was an incoming government which could either do something that was done for the last several decades but was unsuccessful, or do something differently. We tried to do something differently,” he said. He also said while Pakistan is not behaving like a normal state, India’s behaviours is “normal and rational”.
On a possible meeting between the two Prime Ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA, he said, “just look at the climate” and whether it is possible to have a dialogue. On a possible meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting in New York, Jaishankar said they were together at the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting at the same place in the past.
SAARC, he said, is about regional cooperation. “SAARC needs trade, needs connectivity, and doesn’t need terrorism. Which country is promoting SAARC, and which is country is impeding SAARC is known,” he said.