New Delhi: Defending the decision to continue restrictions on internet and telephone connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the move was essential to maintain peace in the Valley and curb any sort of communication between “terrorists and their masters”.
Jaishankar, in an interview with the Politico newspaper in Brussels, said: “It wasn’t possible to stop communication between militants without an impact on all of Kashmir. How do I cut off communication between the terrorists and their masters on the one hand, but keep the internet open for other people? I would be delighted to know.”
Jaishankar, who was in Brussels after a visit to Russia, Poland, and Hungary also scrapped scope of dialogue with Pakistan if it “openly practises terrorism".
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his piece published in New York Times on Friday, had offered to hold talks if India reverses its decisions to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide it into two Union territories.
In a veiled warning, Khan called for discussions at the soonest as a “nuclear shadow" was hovering over South Asia.
Rejecting Khan's call for talks, Jaishankar reiterated New Delhi's stance -- terror and talks can't go hand in hand. Jaishankar also alleged Pakistan of financing and recruiting terrorists.
“Terrorism is not something that is being conducted in the dark corners of Pakistan. It’s done in broad daylight,” Jaishankar said.
The minister dismissed as “fictitious” international reports of shortage of medicines and essential items in Kashmir, as well as human rights violation.
The foreign minister said in the coming days in Kashmir, there would be a progressive easing up and a reduction in the number of extra security forces.
He also slammed assumptions the abrogation of Article 370 was done to fulfil a Hindu nationalist agenda, to allow more non-Muslims to buy property in Kashmir and shrink the representation of the Muslim population.
“The kind of people who say this are people who don’t know India. Does this sound like the culture of India?” the minister asked. Kashmir’s new status would allow it to become a big investment hub. “People in this day and age are not willing to invest in a state with such restrictive conditions,” he said, adding that weak economic development in Kashmir had played into the hands of “cross-border terrorists”.
The tension between India and Pakistan has been soaring since the Narendra Modi government decided to abrogate Article 370.