Indo-Pak talks: Swaraj tells Parliament some trust is necessary

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Lok Sabha on Monday the dialogue with Pakistan had resumed in the belief that some amount of trust in the process was needed.

“Whenever talks happen, that is based on trust…There is a need to bridge the gulf (with Pakistan),” she said, stressing that dialogue was necessary for regional peace and security.

Asked by some assurance that the dialogue would be "uninterruptable", she said, "It never works like that. We would like to not get provoked by saboteurs who want to stall the dialogue somehow, and will try find a way forward."

There was no flip-flop in the government’s Pakistan policy, she said; initiating or stopping a dialogue process was "part of diplomacy".

Swaraj also defended the mention of ‘Jammu and Kashmir’ in the statement issued after the meeting of the two National Security Advisors (NSAs), in Bangkok on December 6. She said the issue of terrorism was on their agenda and the state was terrorist-affected.

Swaraj made a statement in both Houses of Parliament on the recent developments. In the Lok Sabha, the government agreed to a half-hour discussion. Members across party lines welcomed the decision to resume talks and sought clarifications. Several asked what made the government change its stance on a dialogue when Pakistan had failed to address India’s concerns on terrorism, beside having “stabbed India in the back” in the past.

The minister conceded nothing had changed on the ground but said trust needed a chance. Swaraj said Indo-Pak tensions have meant the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation had failed to take off, unlike similar regional groupings across the world.

She defended the choice of a third country (Thailand) for the NSA talks. They were successful, she said, for that reason -- there was no "media hype", the norm if a meeting was to take place in Delhi or Islamabad. It doesn't mean there is a third party in the talks, she said. Terrorism, she added, was now being discussed by the NSAs.

Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM welcomed the resumed dialogue but termed it a "clumsy climb down" by India. A Shiv Sena member asked if India could trust Pakistan. The PDP's Mehbooba Mufti noted Atal Behari Vajpayee's efforts were met by the Kargil conflict but that didn't stop him from believing India should make more efforts if it wanted to save Jammu and Kashmir. She appealed to the government to treat not only the territory of that state as India's but to similarly think of the people there.

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