New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can only be held in an atmosphere free from terror and asserted that the onus was on Islamabad to create such a conducive atmosphere.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said continued cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan remains a core concern for India.
India has repeatedly called upon Pakistan to abide by its commitment not to allow any territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India in any manner, Singh said in response to a question on whether Indo-Pak relations have been very tense in the last three years.
“Pakistan has also been asked to take effective actions to end terrorism and dismantle terrorist sanctuaries and infrastructure on the territory under its control. Until such time, India will continue to take firm and decisive steps to respond to cross-border terrorism,” he said.
The government desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and is committed to addressing all outstanding issues bilaterally and peacefully in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, he said.
“However, any meaningful dialogue can be held only in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility and violence. The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere,” Singh said.
To another question on whether neighbouring countries have illegally encroached upon Indian territories, Singh said Pakistan has been in illegal occupation of approximately 78,000 sq km of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir.
China has been in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000 sq km in Jammu and Kashmir, since 1962. In addition, under the so-called China-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ signed between China and Pakistan on March 2, 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan administered Kashmir to China, he said.
“There is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas between India and China. From time to time, on account of the differences in the perception of the LAC, situations have arisen on the ground that could have been avoided if we had a common perception of the LAC,” Singh said.
The government regularly takes up any transgression along the LAC with the Chinese side through established mechanisms, including border personnel meetings, flag meetings, meetings of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, as well as through diplomatic channels, he said.
To a question on Indian fishermen in Pakistan’s custody, Singh said that according to available information, presently there are 418 fishermen, who are Indian and believed-to-be Indian in Pakistan’s custody.
On a question whether the government’s aggressive foreign policy had resulted in the suspension of US security aid to Pakistan pending decisive action against terror outfits, Singh said India has consistently conveyed its concerns and sensitivities to the US government regarding American security assistance to Pakistan.
“India and the US share similar concerns over the threat posed by terrorism and extremism to peace and security in the region,” he said.