Peace talks impossible with gun in Pakistan’s hand, says India


India on Wednesday said talks can’t be held with guns and blackmail after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accused New Delhi of putting ‘unacceptable’ conditions for peace talks.

Responding to Nawaz’s statement at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), India’s Junior Foreign Minister MJ Akbar denied Pakistan’s claims of going “the extra mile” in engaging with India.

“Pakistan wants dialogue while holding a gun a terrorist gun in its hand. Talks and guns don’t go together. Our position on a dialogue has been consistent. We have always been ready for a dialogue, but we will not succumb to the blackmail tactics of a government in Islamabad that seems eager to use terrorist and terrorism as policy,” Akbar told reporters in New York.

Tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours has escalated in the last two months, after Indian security forces gunned down separatist militant Burhan Wani in Kashmir.

Pakistan witnessed widespread anti-India protests after several civilians were killed in the subsequent clashes with police in Indian Kashmir.

Calling Wani a “young leader”, Nawaz said he had emerged as the symbol of the Kashmiri struggle for independence.

Akbar hit out at Nawaz for glorifying Wani. “It was shocking that a leader of a nation can glorify a self declared, a self- advertised terrorist at such a forum. This is self incrimination by the Pakistan PM,” he said.

Nawaz earlier said Pakistan is committed to the establishment of strategic stability in the region, but accused India of building up arms in an unprecedented manner.

“It neither wants, nor is it engaged in an arms race with India. But we cannot ignore our neighbour’s unprecedented arms build-up and will take whatever measures are necessary to maintain credible deterrence,” Nawaz said at the UNGA.

Bilateral ties between the South Asian neighbours received another setback when a militant attack in Indian Kashmir on Sunday killed 18 soldiers.

India has blamed Pakistan for the raid, but Islamabad denies any role and accused India of apportioning blame before it had properly investigated. The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir remains the main issue of contention between the neighbours, both of whom claim it in full but rule in part.

READ MORE: India urges Pakistan to ‘refrain’ from supporting cross-border terrorism