AsiaIndiaPakistanSouthern Asia

No full stops in diplomacy, says Sushma on Modi-Sharif meet

New Delhi, Sep 8 India Monday held out the possibility of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif in New York this month, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj saying there are no full stops in diplomacy and the government would respond as the situation emerged.

In her first press conference since taking charge of the ministry in May, Sushma Swaraj said the government will decide on possible talks between Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly as the situation pans out.

“There are no full stops in diplomacy,” she said. “We will respond as the situation develops. We are not going with a predetermined mind set,” she said in response to another query on the possibility of Modi-Sharif talks.

The possibility of the New York talks looked bleak after India called off the Aug 25 Foreign Secretary-level talks in Islamabad over Pakistan high commissioner in India Abdul Basit hobnobbing with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The Foreign Secretary-level talks were scheduled to be the precursor to the bilateral meeting between Modi and Sharif.

Sushma Swaraj said that Modi, in his talks with Sharif in New Delhi after the swearing-in ceremony, had taken several initiatives to push forward the ties, including proposing trade on the Wagah-Attari border and the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

“Who derailed this initiative? It was Pakistan,” she said.

Asked if there was a flaw in India’s Pakistan policy in the wake of the sari-shawl diplomacy of good ties between the two leaders which culminated in the talks being called off, Swaraj denied it.

“There is no flaw in our Pakistan policy. We had good talks during the May meeting between Modi and Sharif. But they have not been able to start the trade on the Wagah-Attari border.”

“On the Foreign Secretary talks, our Foreign Secretary spoke to theirs and it was decided to hold it in Islamabad, and on Aug 25. But before that what was the need (for the Pakistan envoy) to invite the separatists?” Swaraj said.

“What was the need, what did they achieve? We have said clearly that if you speak with them, we will call off talks, and so we called off the talks… Where is the flaw in insisting that they not interfere in our internal affairs?” Swaraj posed.

Answering a query on ceasefire violations on the Line of Control, Swaraj said the directors general of military operations on the two sides would talk to each other when needed.

Asked if the Modi government would speak with the Pakistan military, especially with the political upheaval going on in that country, the minister said India would only speak to the elected government in Pakistan and not the army.

To another query if Pakistan’s response to Modi’s offer of help in relief efforts in Pakistan-administered Kashmir has not been very welcoming, Swaraj said she did not think so.

She said Pakistan’s “bhav” or feeling was good to Modi’s offer “and I think it should be appreciated”.

Modi, who visited flood-affected regions of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday, wrote to Sharif offering assistance in relief efforts. Pakistan in turn expressed its sadness over loss of life in Kashmir and offered help.

Swaraj also acknowledged that India is “very disappointed” over Pakistan dragging its feet over the 26/11 trial and said clearly that the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2007 Samjhauta train bombings are separate issues.

On the 26/11 trial in Pakistan, she said, “We have told them repeatedly that they show some progress”, adding: “Yes, we are disappointed” over the lack in progress.

Related posts