Onus on Pakistan for normal neighbourly ties, says India
India on Thursday said the onus is on Pakistan for creating an environment conducive to normal neighbourly relations in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava made the remarks during a weekly news briefing while answering a question on India’s overall relations with its neighbouring countries. He said India’s position on ties with Pakistan is well-known.
“The government has conveyed that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence. The onus is on Pakistan for creating such an environment,” he said.
In recent days, India has held a bilateral summit with Sri Lanka, a meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission with Bangladesh, and foreign office consultations with Myanmar and these engagements were part of the country’s “neighbourhood first” policy, he said.
The Indian government is committed to friendly and mutually beneficial relations with neighbours, and its engagements are based on a “consultative, non-reciprocal and outcome-oriented approach”, Srivastava said. India also has a large development cooperation footprint in neighbouring countries, with several projects to promote greater connectivity, improved infrastructure and people-to-people contacts, he added.
In response to another question, Srivastava dismissed Pakistan’s criticism of an Indian court’s verdict acquitting all 32 accused in the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case, including senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
“India is a mature democracy, where the government and the people abide by the verdicts of the court and show respect for the rule of law. It may be difficult for a system with a coercive apparatus, where people and the courts can be silenced at the will of the establishment, to understand such a democratic ethos,” he said.
Srivastava also said India expects Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of the Indian high commission in Islamabad and its personnel following a “staged protest” outside the mission over the recent death of 11 Pakistani Hindus in Rajasthan.
He said the Pakistani Hindus, who were in India since September 2015, died after consuming a “toxic substance” and their deaths were reported to the external affairs ministry on August 8. In response to a communication from the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi seeking information on the incident, India had shared an interim response on August 14.
This incident was “exploited by the Pakistani establishment to further its own anti-India propaganda”, and a “staged protest was held in Islamabad”, where people who claimed to belong to the Hindu community had gathered outside the Indian mission, he said.
“I would say it is the responsibility of the Pakistani authorities to ensure the safety and security of the Indian high commission in Islamabad and its personnel,” he added.