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FS-level talks depend on Pak response to Pathankot attack: India

Indo- pak

New Delhi : Putting the ball squarely in Pakistan’s court, India today linked the Foreign Secretary- level talks to Islamabad’s “prompt and decisive” action in the Pathankot terror attack for which it has provided “actionable intelligence”.

Uncertainty prevails on talks scheduled for January 15 in Islamabad between Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry following the terror strike on the Pathakot air base which has originated from Pakistan. There is a widespread speculation that the talks may be put off to enable National Security Advisors to meet before that.

At a media briefing here, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup faced a barrage of questions on FS-level talks but he remained non-committal on whether the talks will proceed as scheduled or will be put off. “Today is January 7 and there are 8 days to go before January 15,” he remarked.

Without setting any deadline for Pakistan to take any action, Swarup said, “The terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase has once again put renewed focus on the challenges posed by the cross border terrorism.

“As far as we are concerned the ball is now in Pakistan’s court. The immediate issue in front of us is Pakistan’s response to the terrorist attack and the actionable intelligence provided to it.”

Swarup was replying to a query about the status of Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Referring to the recent telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, he said, “During that conversation our Prime Minister very strongly urged the Prime Minister of Pakistan to take action.

“Actionable intelligence in regard to the terrorist attack and the links with the perpetrators in Pakistan were provided to the Pakistani side. The Pakistan Prime Minister promised us prompt and decisive action. We now wait that prompt and decisive action.”

Asked if there was any time-frame within which Pakistan should take action, he said, “We are not imposing any deadline. At the same time prompt means prompt and we will go by the common sense interpretation of that word,” and rejected a contention that India’s demand would derail the talks.

Asked if NSAs of two countries will meet ahead of the FS- level talks, Swarup said there has been no discussion with Pakistan on this.

He also dismissed suggestions that government’s Pakistan policy was not consistent, saying India’s Pakistan policy is “clear and consistent” and it would like to have friendly relations with all neighbouring countries including Pakistan but will not tolerate cross-border terrorist attacks.

“We had extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan but we will not countenance cross-border terrorist attacks. The decision to commence a bilateral comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan followed a constructive meeting of the National Security Advisors in Bangkok in which the central concerns of terrorism, peace and security and tranquility in the Line of Control were discussed,” he said, the attack has put renewed focus on the cross-border terror.

Swarup also noted that a “positive atmosphere” was created between the two countries after Modi’s visit to Lahore last month but now they are facing the aftermath of the terror attack.

India would like Pakistan to take action against all those responsible for the attacks at the Pathakot air base, he added.

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