Committed to address all outstanding issues with Pakistan bilaterally: Govt

V Muraleedharan in this file picture (Source: Twitter)

The Government Wednesday said it wants normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and was committed to addressing all outstanding issues bilaterally as it asserted that the onus is on Islamabad for creating a terror-free environment for a meaningful dialogue.

In written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said India has asked Pakistan to take “credible and irreversible” steps to end cross-border militancy and dismantle militant infrastructure in territory under its control.

Till then, he said, India will continue to take firm and decisive steps to respond to all attempts at cross border infiltration and supporting cover fire by Pakistan forces.

“The government desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and is committed to addressing all outstanding issues bilaterally and peacefully in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration,” Muraleedharan said.

However, any meaningful dialogue can only be held in an atmosphere free from hostility and violence, he said. “The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere,” he said.

The Minister said, “Following major cross-border attacks in India, Indian forces carried out a surgical strike against militant launch pads along the Line of Control in September 2016 and a pre-emptive counter air strike against militant camp in Balakot, Pakistan, in February.”

“After the Pulwama attack in February, India withdrew the most favoured nation status accorded to Pakistan and imposed a customs duty of 200 per cent on all goods originating in or exported from Pakistan,” he said.

“The Government of India suspended cross-LoC trade from 19 April 2019, on receiving reports that cross-LoC trade routes are being misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency,” Muraleedharan said.

He said that “As a result of the government’s persistent efforts, there is enhanced concern in the international community over violence emanating from Pakistan, including the continuing activities of internationally designated militant entities and individuals such as Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen.”

“International community strongly condemned the cross-border militant  attack in Pulwama in February and major partner countries have called upon Pakistan to not allow its territory to be used for militancy in any manner,” he said.

“Many militant entities and individuals who find shelter in Pakistan and are also engaged in militancy against India have been proscribed by the United Nations (UN), the European Union and other countries,” Muraleedharan said.

“On May 1, the United Nations 1267 Sanctions Committee designated Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad as a UN proscribed terrorist,” he said.

“The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), at its plenary in June 2018, notified Pakistan in the ‘grey list’ due to continuing militant financing related concerns, including with respect to the UN proscribed militant entities like LeT, JuD and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation,” he said.

“India’s call to condemn militancy in all its forms and manifestation, zero tolerance to terrorism, rejection of any justification for an act of militancy, delinking terror from religion and need for all forces believing in humanity to unite in fight against militancy has found greater acceptance among the international community,” he said.

This is reflected in a number of outcome documents issued after bilateral summit meetings with various countries, and at regional and multilateral fora, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, G20, BRICS, among others, the Minister said. To a separate question on whether the airspace of Pakistan has been closed for Indian flights after the incident of Balakot and the time by which Pakistan is likely to remove restrictions on its airspace usage, Muraleedhran said the airspace restrictions that were put in place by Pakistan in February have been lifted with effect from  16 July 2019.