India calls Pakistan "prime sponsor of terrorism,"
Bluntly calling Pakistan a ''prime sponsor of terrorism,'' India on Wednesday asked Islamabad to vacate the part of Kashmir it has occupied, virtually laying down a new paradigm for any resolution of the issue.
''Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism. Pakistan's instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbors is not a solution,'' Spokesman of India's Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.
New Delhi's sulfurous response came after Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had launched his country's familiar lament about Pakistan being a victim of terrorism and the need to ''demilitarize'' Kashmir and give the state the right of self-determination.
''To de-militarize Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorize Pakistan is,'' Swarup blasted back.
In response to Sharif's statement that ''many generations of Kashmiris have lived their lives under occupation,'' Swarup tweeted the following retort: ''Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir.''
India's hardline response, probably the toughest in decades, came after Sharif laid down Pakistan shop-worn narrative about being a victim of terrorism, despite harboring many well-known and UN and US designated terrorists and terror groups, some of them paid out of Pakistani government coffers funded by foreign countries and institutions.
Despite this well known pattern, previous Indian governments had been reluctant to call out Pakistan and humiliate it so publicly, preferring discreet peace moves to walk it back from its widely-known sponsorship of terrorism. The BJP government appears to have decided it will call Pakistan's bluff and expose it before the world community.
The Modi government also seem to want to challenge the old Pakistani narrative about unrest only in Jammu and Kashmir, by highlighting Pakistan's occupation of a part of Kashmir, including Gilgit and Baltistan. By many accounts, people in that region have far less rights than those in India's J&K, where only a small section of malcontents in a narrow strip of Kashmir Valley backed by Pakistan want to secede. There is also a systematic pogram against non-sunni sects in the region that has not caught international attention.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to reply to Sharif's military-backed speech aimed at reviving the Kashmir issue at international platform. Indian officials had warned earlier that Pakistan will face a tough response if it escalates the Kashmir issue.
But judging by the initial response to it efforts, Pakistan is on a weak wicket, particularly in the light of its hosting of terrorists and terror groups which are often highlighted in its own media.
Pakistan's claims of Indian aggression on the border or interference inside Pakistan have also lacked credibility and have no takers in the international diplomatic circuit.
When U.S Secretary of State John Kerry called on Sharif before his address, the ''Prime Minister shared his views on relations with India and expressed deep concern over the Indian ceasefire violations on the LoC and the working boundary. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues through dialogue,'' a statement by the Pakistan Embassy said.
The same statement made no mention of any response to this complaint from Kerry. ''Secretary Kerry appreciated Pakistan's counter terrorism efforts and the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. He also expressed condolences over the terrorist attack on Badaber. Peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, as well as the security situation, were also discussed,'' it said.
Earlier, Swarup had told reporters that US President Barack Obama agreed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Kashmir is a bilateral issue to be resolved between India and Pakistan.
''There was a broad acknowledgement that this is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and people were happy for India and Pakistan to resolve it among themselves,'' Swarup told journalists at a briefing following talks between Obama and Modi.