EAM Jaishankar slams Pakistan on terror, China on border issue.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar has spoken out against the behaviour of China and Pakistan, saying there is evidence the Chinese were the first to violate bilateral agreements by massing troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while Pakistan continues to send terrorists across the border.

Jaishankar made the remarks during an interview on Monday with Austrian public broadcaster ORF at the conclusion of a two-nation tour to Cyprus and Austria. China cannot say India didn’t adhere to bilateral agreements on border management because the Chinese side was the first to move troops to the LAC, he asserted.

Asked by the interviewer whether his characterisation of Pakistan as the “epicentre of terrorism” was diplomatic, Jaishankar said: “I could use much harsher words than epicentre. Considering what has been happening to us, I think epicentre is a very diplomatic word because this is a country which has attacked the Parliament of India some years ago (and) the city of Mumbai… which every day sends terrorists across the border.”

India and China have been locked in a military standoff in Ladakh since May 2020. A deadly clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops, took ties to their lowest point in nearly six decades. Tensions between the two nations increased again following a skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops at Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh on December 9.

The tense situation in the border areas is solely due to the fact that China has not observed agreements on border management, Jaishankar said.

Responding to a question on whether he believes China could militarily intervene in Taiwan, Jaishankar replied: “There’s a larger concern, which is based on our experiences. The concern is that we had agreements with China not to mass forces in our border areas and they have not observed those agreements, which is why we have the currently tense situation that we do.”

He rejected an assertion by the interviewer that Beijing, too, could say New Delhi hadn’t adhered to the agreements, and said it would be “difficult for China to say that (because) the record is very clear”.

Referring to transparency in an era of satellite images, Jaishankar said: “If you see who moved the forces to the border areas first, I think the record is very clear. So, it’s very difficult for China to say what you suggested they could.”

“My experience is that written agreements were not observed, that we have seen levels of military pressure which in our view has no justification,” he added. Despite agreements on not unilaterally altering the LAC, the Chinese side has “tried to unilaterally do that”.

Responding to a question on whether the world should be concerned about a war between India and Pakistan, Jaishankar replied: “I think the world has to be concerned that there is terrorism going on and the world often looks away.” The world should address the challenge of terrorism and not its consequences, he added.

India-Pakistan relations never recovered from the fallout of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that were carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. A string of attacks targeting Indian military facilities and troops that were blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed further impacted relations and took them to an all-time low.

Jaishankar also defended India’s position on the Ukraine conflict and the country’s relationship with Russia, saying New Delhi clearly wants an end to hostilities and the resumption of diplomacy and dialogue. “Where we are concerned, we have always taken the position that the way out is for the countries concerned to get back to dialogue and diplomacy,” he said.

India has been very clear this conflict is not in anybody’s interest, including Russia’s, and New Delhi makes foreign policy decisions on the basis of “long-term interests and what is good for the world”, he added.

Referring to what he said were “many instances” of countries violating the sovereignty of others, Jaishankar said: “If I were to ask where Europe stood on a lot of those, I’m afraid I’ll get a long silence.”

Jaishankar said it is important to look at the history of India’s long-term relationship with Russia, which was “built in a period when Western democracies used to arm a military dictatorship called Pakistan and deny India defensive weapons”.

He also defended India’s growing energy imports from Russia, saying Europe had purchased six times as much energy from Russia during the same period. India, with a per capita income of around $2,000, is not in position to pay high prices for oil at a time when European nations are diverting supplies from the Middle East and putting pressure on the global oil markets.

“If the European political leadership would like to soften the impact on their population, I think it’s a privilege they should extend to other political leaderships as well,” he said.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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