India will not tolerate cross-border terrorist activities and it cannot keep aside terrorism to improve ties with Islamabad under its neighbourhood first policy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday. He said if Pakistan wants to take the relations forward, it knows what to do, adding India has de-legitimised the cross-border terrorism.
The external affairs minister also described the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution from Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 as a long-awaited step, saying it was very crucial for national security. “I do think that what was done in 2019 was a very very crucial step in a long-awaited step for national security. The whole world used it against us. They saw it as a point of vulnerability,” Jaishankar said at a press conference.
“They saw it as something they should keep pressing and keep using and keep turning as a way of keeping India off-balanced. If we do not get it right, how do you expect the world to get it right,” he said. The Article 370 gave special powers to Jammu and Kashmir. “For us, the first thing was to remedy it at home and that is what we did in 2019. Once you sorted it out at home, then the question was how does the world react to it,” Jaishankar added.
He said many countries around the world now understand India’s perspective on the issue. On August 5, 2019, India announced the withdrawal of the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and its decision to bifurcate the state into two union territories.
Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed the special status that was granted under Article 370 of the Constitution. “We spent a lot of time getting people to understand what it was about. Our problem was that there were a lot of false narratives and much of it originated in our own country. We had to deal with it and we dealt with it,” he said.
“I see no reason why Jammu and Kashmir should be denied the benefits not only of development but of globalisation that the rest of India is experiencing. I think it is their right and we should promote it,” he said. Replying to a question on India’s ‘neighbourhood first policy’, Jaishankar said it has enhanced regional cooperation in diverse areas including connectivity, power and trade.
At the same time, he asserted that India cannot keep aside cross-border terrorism to improve ties with Pakistan under the policy. India has been maintaining that Pakistan must stop supporting cross-border terrorism to restore normal bilateral relations. “It is neither the country’s sentiment nor the Modi government’s thinking. If Pakistan wants to take the relations forward, they know what to do. It knows and the world knows,” he said.
Jaishankar made the remarks at a press conference he addressed to list achievements of the Modi government in the foreign policy domain in the last nine years.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)