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June 9, 2019

India rejects Pak offer of peace talks

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June 9, 2019

WASHINGTON: Amid new peace overtures from Prime Minister Imran Khan government after the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the White House has made it clear to Pakistan that the onus for sustained peace in South Asia was on it by putting the terror groups out of business.

Khan has written a second letter to Modi after the latter’s re-election, saying Pakistan wants talks with India to resolve all differences, including on the Kashmir issue. The Pakistani premier said talks between the two nations were the only solution to help both countries' people overcome poverty and that it was important to work together for regional development, international media reported.

However, India has rejected Pakistan's offer of talks, maintaining that terror and talks cannot go together and said that no bilateral meeting has been planned between the two premiers on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO) in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek on June 13-14.

What the United States is really looking for in Pakistan are arrests and prosecutions and not allowing these groups to operate and move around freely, acquire weapons, cross into India, carry out attacks, a senior White House official told international media this week.

The United States is looking for sustained and irreversible steps that shut down their operations, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Until these groups are put out of business, it's going to be very difficult for India and Pakistan to achieve sustained peace. So the onus is on Pakistan to ensure that they crackdown on these groups, said the White House official responding to a question on the US assessment of the Indo-Pak tension.

A senior State Department official said that in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack, the US has seen Pakistan taking some initial actions against designated terrorist organisations and more steps to enhance counter terrorism financing measures. “We welcome those steps,” the official said.

“We have always agreed that the underlying causes of tensions between India and Pakistan needed to be addressed and the underlying tension has been the role of terrorist forces that have sanctuary on Pakistani soil. So we certainly encourage the creation of an environment that will lead to a dialogue.”

Pakistan needs to take practical steps to demonstrate that it is countering terrorist financing and extremists that are located on their territory, a senior State Department Official told reporters last week.

Paris-based international terror financing watchdog FATF in June last year placed Pakistan onto its watch list in a bid to push the country to halt support for militant groups. In February, the FATF decided to continue the 'Grey' listing of Pakistan for its failure to stop funding of terrorist groups such as the JeM, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).

Meanwhile, India has demanded Pakistan to take action against the pro-Khalistani elements and give clarifications on the key issues, including the inclusion of certain controversial elements in a corridor associated with Kartarpur.

Reacting on anti-India slogans raised during June 6th anniversary of Operation Bluestar by Pak’s member Gopal Singh Chawla, the spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar reportedly replied “Our stand is very clear which we have reiterated earlier also that Pakistan gives refuge to persons and groups which indulge in anti-India activities. We have said it earlier also that Pakistan should take action against them. We expect and demand it and this is something which is as per the international norms also”.

He said India expects that if Pakistan was serious in its attempts to improve relations with India then it was imperative that Pakistan takes action against anti-India forces which operate from Pakistan’s soil and to which Pakistan offers refuge.

About Pakistan’s failure to give clarifications sought by India on certain key issues, he said “we have shared our concerns. First thing is that we remain committed to realising the long pending demand of the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. We want them to visit in a safe, secure and easy manner but you are also aware that we have shared our concerns and sought clarifications and reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee associated with this project“.

He said India had sought some clarifications from Pakistan on some of the key proposals which were forwarded at the last technical meeting. “We are still awaiting a response from Pakistan“, he added.

Notably, India had sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals which were put forward during a meeting held on March 14 to discuss the modalities of Kartarpur corridor.