In an unusually strong reaction to Khan’s remarks about India rebuffing his peace overtures, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “There is no seriousness in his statement about wanting to hold talks and it must be backed up with action.”
Kumar rubbished the Pakistani premier’s comments about Indian minorities not being treated properly and said, “I think Pakistan should be the last country in the world to lecture us on the topic of plurality and inclusive society. We and the world are fully aware about how the minorities are treated in their country.”
Bilateral ties hit a fresh low after India called off a planned meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries last September over terror-related concerns. There has been no formal dialogue between the two sides for a decade since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
During an interview with Turkish state-run television, Khan said he believed the Indian government had rejected his offers for talks because of upcoming elections.
“Since the elections are coming in, I feel the anti-Pakistan rhetoric gets votes for the BJP… I have to say I’m disappointed but again I reiterate two nuclear-armed countries should never think of sorting out their differences through war,” he said.
Pakistan, the external affairs ministry spokesperson said, is talking about a dialogue only to deflect attention from its internal problems, including its financial woes. He said Pakistan should address certain issues before proposing talks.
“The first thing is when they say they are ready for talks, why do their ministers share platforms with internationally designated terrorists?” Kumar said.
On September 30, religious affairs minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri shared a stage with Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and both made “very vitriolic anti-India statements”, he said. In December, minister of state for interior Shehryar Afridi met representatives of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and stated the government’s support for Saeed and his organisation, he added.
“If Pakistan is ready for talks, why is no action being taken against terrorists responsible for the Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks? If they are serious about talks, why do they allow their territory to be used by terrorists and groups that are targeting India and other countries,” Kumar said.
The JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), both fronts for the LeT, are no longer on Pakistan’s list of banned groups, and JuD recently inaugurated centres in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir along with prominent PTI leaders, he said.
“It is quite clear the explicit support that banned organisations used to get, they are still getting. There has been no change. The more serious issue is the way they are trying to mainstream terrorist organisations,” he said.