India can no longer hold talks with Pakistan until it gives up its policy of supporting terrorism, the country's Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reelected in a general election fought on a strong nationalistic sentiment in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
The onus of the peace talks to improve the relationship between the two south Asian neighbours lies on Pakistan, Shringla told a group of American reporters as results of the general elections were declared in New Delhi in which Modi was voted back to power with a strong mandate.
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As long as a particular country uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy and India continues to be at the receiving end of that policy, no Indian government will get a mandate from the people to reach out to that country, the envoy said.
Responding to a question on the future of the India-Pak relationship, Shringla said the day Pakistan adjourns terrorism as a means of achieving its end, "I think the government will be within its mandate" to start a better relationship with its western neighbour.
"I think it is the desire of every Indian to have good relations with Pakistan. You see our relations with Bangladesh, you see our relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan. We have excellent relationships," he said.
Shringla said it is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inclusive effort – Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas – to be part of their development. His policy is development for all, including India's neighbours, the top diplomat said.
"We have committed USD27 billion to the development of our neighbourhood and Pakistan is welcome to join. But it cannot be pursuing a policy of supporting terrorism on the one hand and then trying to talk of peace on the other.
That double handed policy is not something that we can deal with anymore," Shringla said.
Referring to the national sentiment in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack, Shringla said there is strong bipartisan support in India when it comes to dealing with terrorism.