External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj opened up about the ministry’s stand on talks with Pakistan during her annual press meet on Monday. She said that terror and talks cannot go together.
In her response to a question about talks with the neighbouring country, she said, “We are ready for talks. We never said we were not ready for talks…But terror and talks cannot go together. When people are dying on the border, talk of dialogue is not appropriate.”
Pakistan will have its newly-elected administration after general elections in July. So when the media asked her if India would engage in dialogue with Pakistan after it has a new Prime Minister, she said India is ready for talks even before the country goes to polls. But having a meaningful dialogue with it does not depend on electoral politics, she added.
India recently held a maritime conversation with Pakistan, which happened after a gap. Last year, India had cancelled the meeting because of tensions over prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav. Both countries also restarted a track-two dialogue last month.
But Swaraj assured of no fundamental change in policies. “When the border is hot, when soldiers are dying, we can’t talk to Pakistan. The NSAs (national security advisers) talk, because it must hold talks on terror,” she said.
“The answer we got in response of what happened with Gilgit Baltistan Order was laughable. They tried to teach us history. Pakistan always distorts history and doesn’t believe in law. Only thing I felt while reading their answer was, ‘look who’s talking’.”
The Union minister also spoke on Pakistan’s order to integrate Gilgit-Baltistan with the rest of the country’s federal structure and said, “The answer we got in response of what happened with Gilgit Baltistan Order was laughable. They tried to teach us history. Pakistan always distorts history and doesn’t believe in law. Only thing I felt while reading their answer was, ‘look who’s talking’.”
She also talked about the Doklam issue and H-1B visa of Indian visitors to US. To note the achievements of MEA in the last four years, Swaraj said, “90,000 people from Indian community have been rescued from various places. In his visits to many countries, PM has saved many people from severe punishments. Today, Indians living overseas are living peacefully.”
On Doklam, she maintained that there is no change in situation at the Doklam faceoff site, the status quo remains.
On H-1B visa, Swaraj said India was talking to all arms of the US government to ensure it does not affect Indians. “Ultimately it’s America’s decision; they are a sovereign country but we are trying our best.”