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India hopes Pakistan would become a 'normal' neighbour: Jaishankar


Moscow, Aug 29: India hopes that Pakistan would one day become a "normal" neighbour, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said as he censured Islamabad for using terrorism as a "diplomatic tool" against the country.


Jaishankar made the comments to Russian scholars and journalists amidst fresh Indo-Pak tensions after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5.

"Today if you look at international relations, I cannot think of any other country in the world which actually uses terrorism as a diplomatic tool against its neighbour. It is actually a unique phenomenon," Jaishankar, on his maiden visit to Russia as the external affairs minister, said at an interaction at the Valdai Discussion Club on Tuesday.

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India and Afghanistan have repeatedly asked Pakistan not to provide safe haven to the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and other militant groups, which carry out terror attacks in the two countries.

Jaishankar pointed out that India has struggled to have normal bilateral trade with Pakistan but Islamabad would not accord the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to New Delhi and even prevented India's trade with Afghanistan.

"We have struggled to have normal trade, they wouldn't give us MFN status though we are members of the WTO and GATT. They wouldn't allow connectivity from India to Afghanistan and Afghanistan to India.

On Tuesday, Pakistan said it was considering reimposing full airspace ban on Indian flights as well as banning India from using Pakistani land routes for Indo-Afghan trade in response to New Delhi's decision on Jammu and Kashmir.

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"So if you have a neighbour would not trade with you normally, not allow connectivity and who thinks that using terrorism as means of pressurising you is OK as a policy, this is not a normal neighbour," the minister said while responding to a question.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

India has maintained that Pakistan must show credible, verifiable and sustained action against terror groups operating from its soil.

"I think we have some unique problems out there and we will find ways of dealing with it," Jaishankar said while acknowledging that there were "complicated political and historical reasons for it."

"But we believe that the best way of dealing with it eventually is for the two countries to find some way to come to terms with each other," he said.

Reacting to India's decision on Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner soon after deciding to downgrade the diplomatic ties with New Delhi.

"It certainly would be my hope that they would become a normal neighbour one day. that has to be something which I would like to happen," Jaishankar said while answering to another question.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated in February after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.

India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.

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