New Delhi: ‘Steps were needed to prevent communications between ‘terrorists and their masters’, said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in an interview with Politico newspaper in Brussels. Jaishankar defended the restrictions in the Valley following the abrogation of Article 370 and asserted that communication blockade was needed to stop the activation of ‘terrorist assets’.
He claimed that it was impossible to stop communications between terrorists without an overall impact on the Valley. “It wasn’t possible to stop communications 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 said.
Meanwhile, he also rejected Pakistan’s recent call for ‘conditional talks’ over the Kashmir conflict, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together. “Terrorism is not something that is being conducted in the dark corners of Pakistan. It’s done in broad daylight,” the Union minister added.
Notably, India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group.
The foreign minister, who was in Brussels after a visit to Russia, Poland, and Hungary assured that in upcoming the restrictions will be eased progressively, including a reduction in the number of the extra security forces in the Valley.
On being asked about the assumptions that there was a Hindu nationalist agenda in abrogating Article 370, Jaishankar said, “The kind of people who say this are people who don’t know India. Does this sound like the culture of India?
“Kashmir’s new status would allow the big entrepreneurial investment that was more typical in other Indian states, People in this day and age are not willing to invest in a state with such restrictive conditions. Weak economic development in Kashmir had played into the hands of “cross-border terrorists”, he claimed.
When queried about medicines and small businesses, Jaishankar said he thinks ‘a lot of the reports about shortages are fictitious’.