Asserting that the government is ready to hold talks with Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said the western neighbour needs to stop supporting terrorism before coming to the negotiating table. “We are ready for talks. We never said we were not ready for talks…But terror and talks cannot go together. It is not good to hold talks at a time when our security forces are being attacked,” Swaraj said while addressing the annual MEA press conference in New Delhi.
In reply to a question on whether the government would engage with the newly elected Pakistan administration after general elections in July, Swaraj said India is ready for talks even before the country goes to polls and having a meaningful dialogue with it does not depend on electoral politics.
On Pakistan’s May 21 order to integrate Gilgit-Baltistan with the rest of the country’s federal structure, Swaraj said: “The answer we got in response of what happened with Gilgit Baltistan Order was laughable. They tried to teach us history. Pakistan always distorts history and doesn’t believe in law. Only thing I felt while reading their answer was, ‘look who’s talking’.”
On Sunday, India summoned the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner to protest against the order. The MEA, in a press release, asserted that the region belongs to India and Pakistan’s attempts to alter its status is illegal.
Listing out MEA achievements in the last four years of NDA government, Swaraj touched upon on host of issues including Doklam, H4 and H-1B visas.
Swaraj said that 90,000 Indians have been brought home safely due to the efforts of the MEA. “90,000 people from Indian community have been rescued from various places. In his visits to many countries, PM has saved many people from severe punishments. Today, Indians living overseas are living peacefully,” she said.
On Doklam, she said: “I am repeating again, at the Doklam faceoff site there is no change in the situation, status quo is continuing.”
The MEA, Swaraj said, has been lobbying hard to iron out the issues concerning H4 and H-1B visas. “We are trying our best to save H1 and H-1B. We are in talks with the Congress, Senate, White House…,” she said.