‘No bilateral with Pak till terrorism ends,’ says EAM Sushma Swaraj

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New Delhi: While India and Pakistan approved the development of the Kartarpur corridor, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday cleared India’s stand on bilateral talks between with Pakistan.

On the day that two central government ministers — Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri will be in attendance as Imran Khan lays the foundation stone at the groundbreaking of the Pak end of the corridor at Kartarpur, Swaraj, who couldn’t go to Pakistan because of scheduling conflicts, addresses a news briefing.

Calling the Kartarpur development a positive step, Sushma Swaraj nonetheless clarified that India would remain firm on its decision to not hold bilateral talks with Pakistan till such time that the neighbouring country doesn’t stop its terrorist activities.

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“The minute Pakistan stops terrorism, that moment bilateral talks can happen”, she said.

She was also asked about the controversy surrounding Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu visiting Pakistan once again, to which she raised the point that while the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh had declined Pakistan’s invite citing terrorism, Sidhu had insisted on going at a personal level. On this, she said that the onus was on the Congress to explain.

“Pathankot, Uri happened. We can’t have a bilateral with Pakistan like this no matter on whose request”, she said, confirming that India would not attend a SAARC Summit on Pakistani soil. The confirmation came a day after Pak’s MoFA said it would invite the Prime Minister to the same forum that India had boycotted in 2016 owing to Pak-sponsored terrorism. At that time, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh had also followed India’s lead.

“No bilateral till terrorism stops”, Sushma Swaraj reiterated.

Mere minutes before her news briefing, India’s two union ministers crossed over into Pakistan via the Wagah border. Speaking then, Hardeep Singh Puri had also hailed the Kartarpur development as a positive one, but maintained that ground realities would have to be kept in mind in this regard:

“The Kartarpur decision is anchored by hope & goodwill, but we have to keep ground realities in mind”, he said.

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