By Sunil Garodia
In a hard-hitting stance, External Affairs Minister (EAM), S Jaishankar, today hit out at Pakistan for being an "abnormal" neighbor and reiterated India's position as the rightful owner of PoK. This was long overdue. Imran Khan has been using all available platforms to tell the world that India's recent action in abrogating Article 370 amounted to "annexation" of Jammu & Kashmir and it could be a flashpoint between the two countries. He very conveniently forgot to tell the world that Pakistan was in illegal possession of a large part of the state which was legitimately India territory. But Jaishankar has rightly put things in perspective.
Jaishankar, addressing his first press conference after assuming office as EAM in the Modi 2.0 government, was very forthright when he said that "our position has, is and will always be very clear on PoK that it is part of India and we expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction over it." The government had made it clear after August 5 that any talks with Pakistan will now be over PoK and not J&K.
Jaishankar was also scathing in denouncing Pakistan as the sponsor of terrorism. He said "they think nice words are an answer to the real problem. The real problem is the dismantling of this industry that they have created." In this context, it needs reminding that Pakistan has always maintained that it was "non- state" actors who were conducting acts of terror in India. It has refused to accept that it allows its government agencies and state-funded organizations, along with terror outfits like LeT and JeM, to motivate and train jihadis, provide them with arms and ammunition, make them infiltrate into India and then provide them with ground support within India through their sleeper cells. It uses some misguided Kashmiris, Afghan mercenaries and Pashtun elements to claim they are non-state actors. But, as Jaishankar has said, the terror industry is very much alive and kicking, now more than ever, in Pakistan.
As for talks with Pakistan, the minister was equally candid. He said "show me a country in the world which will accept that its neighbor can conduct terrorism and then it will go and talk to that neighbor. Our position is completely normal, rational. They are the people whose behavior is a set of aberrations. The abnormality is theirs." In simple terms, this means that terrorism and talks will not go on simultaneously and Pakistan will have to mend its ways (dismantle the terror industry) before India will talk to it.
After having run from pillar to post in its quest to get support for its position on Kashmir and having returned empty-handed from most countries and almost all forums, Pakistan must now realize that India has changed the rules of the game. Pakistan played the Kashmir card for over 70 years. It should now be prepared to give answers for its continued and illegal occupation of PoK. It must now prepare itself for increased pressure from the international community to dismantle the terror factories in its country. It will have to stop funding terror or it will get blacklisted by FATF. It will have to behave like a normal neighbor. But is it not too much to ask from a country whose military establishment is itching to fight (with nuclear weapons, if necessary)with India over Kashmir, till death (as Imran Khan said in his interview with Al Jazeera)?