NEW DELHI: Talking tough in the wake of the attack on army camp in Nagrota, India today made it clear that talks with Pakistan cannot take place in an atmosphere of "continued terror", which it will never accept as "new normal" in the bilateral relationship.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said the government is awaiting detailed information on the specifics of the Nagrota attack before it decides on the next steps. "But I do wish to emphasise that the government takes this incident very seriously and will do what it feels is required for our national security," he asserted.
Asked if there would be bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia (HoA) Conference in Amritsar on December 3 and 4, he said, "We have not received any request from Pakistan for a bilateral meeting.
"India has always been open to talks but obviously it cannot be that talks take place in an atmosphere of continued terrorism. India will never accept continued terrorism as the new normal in the bilateral relationship," Swarup said.
India's sharp remarks come two days ahead of the conference where Pakistan will be represented by Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Earlier, Pakistani media reports had quoted officials as having said there would not be a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the HoA meet on Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations on Sunday where the Indian delegation will be led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the absence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is ill.
Hitting out at Pakistan, Swarup said Pakistan is a country which has a long record of carrying out cross-border terrorism which it regards as an instrument of state policy and which puts Islamabad at odds with the rest of the international community.
On the criticism that the attacks increased after the surgical strikes, he said, "It was our assessment at that point of time that there was an imminent threat based on hard intelligence about the location of armed terrorists who were ready to infiltrate from across the LoC and carry out terrorist activities on our side.
"This imminent threat was successfully neutralised through the surgical strikes. We should not look only at what happened but also at what did not happen, what was prevented through successful neutralisation of terrorists."
On the appointment of Pakistan's new army chief, he said it is an internal matter of Pakistan. India will judge Pakistan by its behaviour and its track record and not by change of persons, he added.
On Pakistan suggesting a joint probe in Uri strike, which India maintains was carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists, Swarup said this has happened in past also and instead of acting on the evidence provided by India, Islamabad engages in "pure propaganda ploys".
"Pakistan called for an international inquiry, we said we are happy even with their domestic inquiry. When we are giving you fingerprints, DNA of the terrorists who we believe came from Pakistan why Pakistan cannot match this with its national database?
"That would be the simplest thing to do, but Pakistan refuses to do that and instead engages in these pure propaganda ploys," the Spokesperson said, adding if Islamabad was serious about tracking down those behind the Uri attack, it should first bring to book those responsible for 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai. Besides, it should also share with India the investigation details in the Pathankot air base attack for which a Joint Investigation Team from Pakistan visited the country, he said.
Over the years, India has suffered many "heinous terrorist attacks which have been supported and sponsored by Pakistan and this has been a calculated strategy on its part for many years. He referred to terror attacks on Indian Parliament, the Kaluchak massacre, 2005 Delhi bombings, strike on the CRPF camp in Rampur in 2008, 26/11 Mumbai attack, besides the assaults on Pathankot air base and the army camp in Uri.
"These (attacks) are all reminders of the continuing complicity of Pakistan in sponsoring cross-border terrorism of which Nagrota is the latest example. So, it is evident that it is not a matter of a week or a month. It is infact a challenge that we have faced over many years, indeed over many decades," the MEA Spokesperson said.
He also rejected Pakistan's allegation that India scuttled this year's SAARC summit, saying its members wrote "unanimously" to the Chair that atmosphere was not conducive for holding the meet.