Swaraj said Indo-Pak ties can become normal only when Pakistan acts against terrorists operating from its soil and stops terrorism aimed at India.
New Delhi: Accusing Pakistan of attacking India on “behalf of the JeM” after the February 26 airstrike, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj lashed out at Pakistan for double-speak on ties with India and said Prime Minister Imran Khan should hand over Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar to India if he genuinely wants peace.
In remarks made at an event organised by a think tank on the eve of the crucial talks on the Kartarpur pilgrimage corridor in Punjab on Thursday, Ms Swaraj said Indo-Pak ties can become normal only when Pakistan acts against terrorists operating from its soil and stops terrorism aimed at India.
“Some voices in India say that Pakistan PM Imran Khan is a statesman and he is showing generosity, that he wants peace. I want to say that if Imran Khan is so generous, then why doesn’t he hand over Masood Azhar to India. Let him do it. Then we will see his generosity,” Ms Swaraj said, in comments dripping with sarcasm.
She also accused Pakistan of retaliating militarily against India on February 27 on behalf of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) despite the fact that the IAF strike on February 26 was aimed at the JeM and not the Pakistan forces or civilians. The minister also asked Pakistan to stop “lying” repeatedly.
Ms Swaraj’s aggressive remarks against Pakistan were made during her speech at a thinktank just hours before China blocked a move at the UN Security Council to get Azhar designated as a global terrorist.
“Talks and terror cannot go together. We are ready to engage with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror and violence. Why don’t you (Pakistan) create that environment? You say you want peace and dialogue but your (Pakistan-based) terrorist JeM kills 40 of our (paramilitary CRPF) soldiers in Pulwama. Within minutes, they take responsibility. Your foreign minister (Shah Mahmood Qureshi) says Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and he is unwell. Then your Army spokesperson says he (Azhar) is not in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was also not supposed to be in Pakistan. You say terrorists are not in Pakistan. But they are then found there. How much will you lie and till when?” said Ms Swaraj.
Hoping for better ties, she said, “There can be normal ties with Pakistan, why not? But the condition is that action should be taken against terrorists in your country (Pakistan) and stop terror activities aimed at India.”
“We waited for 10 days after Pulwama (terror attack) but you took no action against terrorists. What was the mandate of (India’s) airstrike on February 26? That no Pakistan civilian or military personnel should be hurt. (It was) to go with the limited target of destroying a JeM terror camp. No Pakistani civilian or military personnel was hurt. On February 27, Pakistan retaliated. I want to ask — on behalf of whom did you (Pakistan) retaliate? The attack was not aimed at you. You attacked India on behalf of JeM. You give refuge to terror organisations, fund them and when they carry out terror attacks against other countries, instead of taking action against them, you attack those countries on behalf of these terror organisations?” said Ms Swaraj.