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No Modi-Sharif meeting in Astana, Pakistan cannot take Kashmir issue to ICJ: Sushma Swaraj

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-06-2017 PTI

New Delhi: India on Monday ruled out any meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif when the two will be in Kazakhstan this week, and asserted that Pakistan cannot take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Taking a tough stance on ties with Pakistan, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said “talks and terror cannot go together”. She also emphasised that India was engaged with other countries on the issue of cross-border terrorism. “No meeting is scheduled either from their side or from our side,” Swaraj said at a press conference after she was asked if Modi and Sharif will meet on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit at Astana, Kazakhstan on 8-9 June.

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Asked about reported remarks of a Pakistani law officer that Islamabad will take the Kashmir issue to the ICJ after India approached the global court in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, the minister said, “Pakistan cannot take Kashmir issue to ICJ. The Shimla agreement and Lahore declaration are very clear on Kashmir issue that it can only be resolved bilaterally. The two countries are bound by these bilateral agreements.” She also referred to some cases pending at other courts such as the Hyderabad Nizam funds case in a UK court and issues pertaining to the Indus Waters Treaty before the World Bank.

Rejecting suggestions that the government had a “flip- flop” policy in handling Pakistan, she said India is very clear that “it wants to hold dialogue, resolve all issues bilaterally without mediation from any third country, organisation or anyone else. But at the same time, terror and talks cannot go together”. The minister also emphasised that the government was asking other countries not to see cross-border issues or terrorism emanating from Pakistan from the prism of India but see if international terrorism was in any way linked with that country.

“Finally, where was Osama bin Laden found? In Pakistan,” she said, adding it was time to finalise the comprehensive convention on international terrorism at the UN and define terrorism. On Pakistan’s contention that it will raise jurisdiction on the merit of the Jadhav case, she said India has a very strong argument and it will win the case. She also made it clear that India’s case was based on Pakistan’s violation of the Vienna Convention under which consular access was not only “essential but compulsory”.

India has made 16 requests to Pakistan to grant access to Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “involvement in espionage and sabotage activities” against the country. Pakistan claims its security forces arrested him from its restive Balochistan province on 3 March last year after he reportedly entered from Iran. However, India maintains that he was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the navy and approached the ICJ to save his life.

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