Nagrota attack: Terror can’t be the new normal, says Vikas Swarup
New Delhi: India on Thursday issued a veiled but clear threat to Pakistan, saying it took the Nagrota terrorist attack “very seriously” and would do everything required for national security.
India carried out surgical strikes against terrorist launchpads across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in retaliation for a similar terrorist raid on an army garrison in Uri in September.
Ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesman Vikas Swarup blamed Pakistan for Tuesday’s raid on an Indian Army camp in Nagrota—in which seven Indian soldiers including two officers were killed—some 3km from the headquarters of the Indian Army’s 16 Corps.
“Pakistan is a country which has a long record of carrying out cross-border terrorism which it regards as an instrument of state policy. This puts Pakistan at odds with the rest of the international community,” Swarup said.
Linking the Nagrota attack with some others like the 2008 Mumbai attacks that was traced back to Pakistan, Swarup said all these were “reminders of the continuing complicity of Pakistan in sponsoring cross-border terrorism of which Nagrota is the latest example”.
India retaliated against terrorist launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after the 18 September attack in Uri that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers based on “a particular assessment” at that point in time, Swarup said.
The government was awaiting more information on the Nagrota attack “before we decide on the next steps”, he said.
“But I do wish to emphasize that the government takes this incident very seriously and will do what it feels is required for our national security,” Swarup added.
When asked if there were any chances of talks between India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia ministerial conference in Amritsar on 3-4 December, Swarup said India had not received any request for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi or finance minister Arun Jaitley—who is standing in for foreign minister Sushma Swaraj—from Pakistan’s adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz.
Aziz is representing Pakistan at the conference, which is aimed at discussing issues related to Afghanistan.
“India has always been open to talks, but obviously it cannot be that talks take place in an atmosphere of continued terrorism. India will never accept continued terrorism as the new normal of the bilateral relationship,” Swarup said.
Talks between the two countries have been suspended since 2013 and various efforts to restart the dialogue since Modi came to office in 2014 have not fructified.
“The primary reason for the current state of India-Pakistan relations is the continued cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. The sooner Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism, the sooner bilateral relations can come back on track,” he said.
Listing out all the steps taken by India to normalize ties since Modi took office—including an unscheduled visit to Lahore last December to greet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, Swarup said India had been at the receiving end of repeated terrorist attacks on security forces and civilians in return for its overtures.
“When Pakistan says talks should be without conditions, we also say the same thing. We are saying stop cross-border terrorism,” Swarup said.