India Tells Pak: Choose Delhi or Hurriyat

NEW DELHI: Union Defence Minister on Wednesday said Pakistan must make a "conscious choice of peace" and decide whether it wants to talk to the Indian government or the Hurriyat leaders.

According to news reports, Indian Defence and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India is prepared to enter dialogue with Pakistan and normalise relations but "there are a few red lines".

Referring to India's decision to call off foreign secretary-level bilateral talks with Pakistan following the criticism of Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit's meeting with Hurriyat leader Shabbir Shah, Jaitley said:

"We create the environment, we fix up a dialogue at the level of foreign secretaries, our foreign secretary is to visit Pakistan [and] literally a few hours before that they invite the separatists for a dialogue to their high commission [in New Delhi]."

"So I think a new red line has to be drawn in Pakistan to reconsider this question that who they want to speak to? Do they want to speak to the government of India or they want to speak to those who want to break India," the Indian minister said at the India Economic Summit in New Delhi.

"So unless Pakistan makes the conscious choice, a dialogue with Pakistan will not be possible," he said.

Talking about the ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC), he said the consequences of Pakistan's "misadventure" like firing on a civilian population and the uprooting of a village, "would be an unaffordable cost for Pakistan."

Jaitley said New Delhi had given three messages to Pakistan.

"The first is that we want to talk. So we invited them. The second is we send a foreign secretary there. But they must decide whether they are ready to speak to our foreign secretary or to speak to those who want to break India. The third is that this kind of a situation in international border cannot go on.

"That's not an environment for a dialogue... India would like to normalise the relationship. But whether Pakistan wants to normalise the relationship depends on Pakistan."

Jaitley had warned Pakistan on October 21 of more “pain” if it "continued to violate a ceasefire" on the Line of Control in Kashmir. He had said that it was up to Islamabad to create conditions for the resumption of peace talks.

“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they'll feel the pain of this adventurism,” Jaitley.

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