New Delhi: India has no problem talking to Pakistan but it has a problem talking to ‘Terroristan’, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said here, asserting that Islamabad had created an entire industry of terrorism to deal with the Kashmir issue.
Mr. Jaishankar, addressing a New York audience at cultural organisation Asia Society on Tuesday said that India drew a reaction from Pakistan and China when it decided to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and also expelled Indian High Commissioner after New Delhi revoked the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 5.
China had voiced “serious concern” over the situation in Kashmir, saying “the parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate tension.”
Mr. Jaishankar emphasised that India had no problem talking to Pakistan. “But we have a problem talking to ‘Terroristan’. And they have to be one and not be the other,” he said.
He underlined that revoking Article 370 had no implications for India’s external boundaries.
“We are sort of reformatting this within our existing boundaries. It obviously drew a reaction from Pakistan, it drew a reaction from China. These are two very different reactions. I think, for Pakistan, it was a country which has really created an entire industry of terrorism to deal with the Kashmir issue. In my view, it’s actually bigger than Kashmir, I think they have created it for India,” Mr. Jaishankar said.
He added that in the aftermath of India’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Pakistan would see its investment of 70 years undercut if this policy succeeded.
“So theirs is today a reaction of anger, of frustration in many ways, because you have built an entire industry over a long period of time,” he said.
When asked about he thought Pakistan would do, Mr. Jaishankar said this was not a Kashmir issue but a bigger issue. “Pakistan has to accept that the model which they have built for themselves no longer works. That you cannot, in this day and age, conduct policy using terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. I think that’s at the heart of the issue,” he said.
He also recalled that over the years in Jammu and Kashmir, “the lack of development, lack of opportunity, actually created a sense of alienation, alienation to separatism, separatism used for terrorism.”
When asked what Pakistan would need to do as a precondition for Kashmir talks, Mr. Jaishankar said, “I think we are getting this wrong. First of all Pakistan has to do something for its own good and if it does that, it would enable a normal neighbourly relationship with India.”
He added that it was not like “India and Pakistan agreed on everything else and the two countries had wonderful relationships and there is a Kashmir issue.”
“We had an attack on Mumbai city. The last time I checked, Mumbai city was not a part of Kashmir. So if Pakistani terrorists can attack states and regions which are far removed from Kashmir, we have got to recognise that there is a bigger problem out there,” the minister said.
The problem is really the mindset, he said, adding that every time there is a change of government in Pakistan, “somebody says its new and nothing to do with the earlier guys and blames the previous government."
Second, they say, “it has nothing to do with us as a country, it’s all the Americans. The Americans taught us the bad habits by doing the Afghan jihad. We were good people till you came along,” he said.
“There is a fundamental issue there which they need to understand and we need to encourage them to do - that is to move away from terrorism,” he said. “These are not activities which are subterranean. These are activities in broad day light. They know where the camps are, anybody knows where the camps are, just google them. You’ll find them,” he added.
Mr. Jaishankar emphasised that the provision in the Indian Constitution that gave Kashmir a different status was a temporary provision. “We agree on what the word temporary means, it means something comes to an end. After 70 years, it came to an end. And 70 years is a decent definition of the word temporary,” he said.
He said when the Narendra Modi government was voted back into power, it took a long hard look at what its options were about Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. “And the options were either we do more of the same, knowing it doesn’t work, or we do something different. So I think the choice was ok, we will do something different. And that something different, by the way, has no implications for the external boundaries of India,” he said.
On China, he said Beijing misread what was happening in Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370.
“Now, I don’t know why they believe that it impacted them,” he said, adding that he went to Beijing a few days after the Constitutional change and explained to them that as far as they were concerned, nothing had changed. “India’s boundaries had not changed, the line of actual control has not changed. So that was the conversation we had with them,” he said.