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Delegates from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for Pravasi Day 2017

| SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : Aug 27, 2016, 1:38 am IST
Updated : Aug 27, 2016, 1:38 am IST

In a move apparently aimed at increasing the pressure on Pakistan, India has hinted it is mulling whether delegates from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir should be invited for the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Photo: PTI)
 External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Photo: PTI)

In a move apparently aimed at increasing the pressure on Pakistan, India has hinted it is mulling whether delegates from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir should be invited for the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in Bengaluru in January 2017, with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj saying, in response to a question: “Wait for the government’s decision.” India’s long-standing and consistent position is that PoK is part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and thus Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan. The external affairs ministry later said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier given some instructions to the MEA, but did not say how it would implement these directives.

Hardening its stand, India also said that it seeks a result-oriented dialogue with Pakistan, with the intended result being the early vacation of the illegal occupation of PoK by Pakistan. India also told Pakistan that not just New Delhi, the larger region was aware Pakistan is actually the “prime perpetrator” of terrorism. This was conveyed in a letter by foreign secretary S. Jaishankar to his Pakistani counterpart, that was handed over in Islamabad by the Indian high commissioner two days ago. Justifying terrorism and interfering in India’s internal affairs are hardly a serious basis for a result-oriented dialogue, India has told Pakistan.

The MEA also confirmed that finance minister Arun Jaitley would not attend the Saarc finance ministers’ conference in Islamabad, with the finance ministry’s secretary (economic affairs) Shaktikanta Das visiting the Pakistani capital to attend it as India’s representative. The worsening India-Pakistan ties have cast a shadow on PM Narendra Modi’s originally envisaged visit to Islamabad for the Saarc heads of state/government summit to be held on November 9 and 10 in Islamabad, while Pakistan said it had extended invitations to all Saarc leaders.

At a briefing on Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas — which is held every two years and is attended by the Indian diaspora — due in Bengaluru in January 2017, Ms Swaraj was asked a question on whether delegates from PoK would be invited to attend it as PoK is part of Indian territory. “Wait for the government’s decision,” Ms Swaraj said with a smile. At his weekly briefing later in the evening, MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup was asked about Ms Swaraj’s reply and if it meant PoK representatives may be invited to attend the conference. Mr Swarup replied: “The Prime Minister has (earlier) given certain instructions to the MEA. We will not comment on how we will implement these directives.”

There are also indications that India will not back down after Mr Modi mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day speech. Asked if India will raise the issue of Balochistan at the UN General Assembly or UNHRC, Mr Swarup said: “India has a strong human rights record at home and we are naturally concerned at gross violations of human rights in the region you have referred to. How this is expressed in our diplomacy is something that you will have to wait and see.”

In his latest response to his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry’s fresh invitation of August 19 for talks, the MEA said foreign secretary S. Jaishankar once again emphasised the need for the earliest possible vacation of Islamabad’s illegal occupation of PoK, with New Delhi bluntly telling Islamabad that Pakistan is actually a “prime perpetrator” of terrorism. Mr Swarup said: “Providing support, safe havens and sanctuary to terrorists and making the distinction between good terrorist and bad terrorist has posed enormous risk to peace and stability to our region. It is important for Pakistan to realise the reality and not remain in denial on the impact of cross-border terrorism on the bilateral relationship. The sooner Pakistan recognises this central and important fact, the sooner the India-Pakistan relationship can progress.”

On the UN committee’s statement on Dawood Ibrahim’s addresses, the MEA spokesman said this information on the international terrorist was the result of the latest updating of records by the UN’s 1267 Committee monitoring team, adding that Dawood Ibrahim continues to remain on the designated global terrorist list; the 1267 monitoring committee continues to treat his Pakistani passport as a valid document; the UN had also confirmed that he resides in and has properties in Pakistan; and that the UN continues to keep a regular watch on him. “India continues to maintain that it is incumbent upon Pakistan to extradite this global terrorist to whom they have provided sanctuary for a very long period of time to face justice for his many crimes. We hope Pakistan will heed international opinion on this issue,” he added.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi