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India won't escalate, but won't take Pulwama as its destiny: Swaraj

Source: PTI
March 13, 2019 23:16 IST
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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said she conveyed to several countries post Pulwama attack that India will not escalate the situation with Pakistan but if there is any other terror attack from that country, then it will not remain silent.

In an address at a think tank on Modi government's foreign policy, she said Pakistan was worried that India would escalate the situation and she was contacted by a number of foreign ministers over it.

"I used to receive calls from foreign ministers who used to first condole the Pulwama attack, then express their solidarity and then they used to softly say that we think India will not escalate the situation," she said.

 

"To which I used to reply that no, I assure you India will not escalate the situation but if there is any other terror attack then we will not remain silent as we cannot say Pulwama as our destiny," she said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

Pakistan retaliated the strike by attempting unsuccessfully to target Indian military installations. However, the Indian Air Force thwarted its plans.

Swaraj said India cannot have dialogue with Pakistan unless the neighbouring country acted against terror outfits on its soil, asserting that 'talks and terror cannot go together'.

Talking on 'India's World: Modi Government's Foreign Policy', she stated that Pakistan needs to control the Inter-Services Intelligence and its army who are bent on destroying the bilateral relations time and again.

"We do not want talk on terror, we want action on it. Terror and talks cannot go together," she said.

Swaraj also questioned Pakistan's retaliation to the Indian air strikes in Balakot when, she said, India had specifically targeted the terror outfit JeM.

"Why did the Pakistani military attack us on behalf of JeM? You not only keep JeM on your soil, but fund them and when the victim country retaliates, you attack it on the terror outfit's behalf.

"If Imran Khan (Pakistan prime minister) is so generous and a statesman, he should give us Masood Azhar," she said.

The external affairs minister said India can have a good relationship with Pakistan, provided the neighbouring country 'takes action against terror groups on its soil'.

On her invitation to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, she said India avenged the humiliation meted out to it 50 years ago by becoming the 'guest of honour' at the OIC meet this year.

"In 1969, India was humiliated when it was not allowed to participate in the meeting even after reaching the venue after Pakistan protested against India's then foreign minister's participation.

"But now, 50 years later, it was India that was on the seat of the guest of honour, while Pakistan's seat was empty," she said.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had expressed reservations about the invitation to Swaraj for the OIC meeting, and later decided to boycott the meeting of the 57-member Muslim grouping held earlier this month.

Talking about the foreign policy of the current government, Swaraj said it was based upon the two principles of 'national interest supreme' and 'world is our family'.

"People often ask us what we get by our frequent travel to countries. I want to tell them we do not travel to have fun, we travel to build our relationship with other countries and it is because of our ties with these countries that we were able to rescue 7,000 people from Yemen.

"The strength of our bilateral ties was also reflected in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) elections," she said.

"I have seen the strength of this relationship time and again," the senior BJP leader said, adding that at the ministerial level, Indian leaders have visited 189 out of 193 countries.

Swaraj added that the country's global profile has improved in the last five years.

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