Onus for 'normal neighbourly relations' lies with Islamabad: India

    02-Oct-2020   
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New Delhi: Close on the heels of Islamabad making adverse remarks on CBI special court verdict on Babri Masjid demolition, India on Thursday said that it has conveyed that New Delhi "desires normal neighbourly relations" with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility and violence.
 
Thus, it said, the onus is on Pakistan for "creating such an environment".
 
New Delhi also rejected Pakistan's criticism of the acquittal of all the 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, saying it may be difficult for the western neighbour to understand the ethos of democracy and the rule of law.
 
Answering questions at a media briefing, MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said: "India is a mature democracy where the Government and citizens abide by the verdicts of the Court and show respect for the rule of law".
 
Thus, he said, "It may be difficult for a system with a coercive apparatus (like Pakistan) where people and the courts can be silenced at the will of the establishment, to understand such democratic ethos".
 
In its reaction to the historic verdict of the Special CBI court in Lucknow that acquitted former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and 31 others, Pakistan 'condemned' the verdict and urged the Indian government to ensure safety, security and protection of minorities, particularly Muslims and their places of worship.
 
MEA spokesman also fielded questions on India's much talked about 'Neighbourhood First policy' and said the government is committed to developing friendly and mutually beneficial relations with neighbours.
 
"Our engagement with these countries is based on a consultative, non-reciprocal and outcome-oriented approach. We have a large development cooperation footprint in these countries, and we are engaged in several projects for greater connectivity, improved infrastructure and broader people-to-people contacts," he said.
 
As regards Pakistan, he sought to clarify that India's position is well known, "the government has conveyed that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility and violence. The onus is on Pakistan for creating such an environment".
 
To a question, MEA spokesman referred to a series of bilateral engagements, India had with neighbouring countries this week.
 
There was a virtual India-Sri Lanka virtual summit between two Prime Ministers - Narendra Modi and Mahinda Rajapaksa.
 
He also referred to Joint Consultative Committee meeting between External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and his Bangladesh counterpart Dr A K Abdul Momen on September 29.
 
On Thursday, in yet another key engagement, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla held a Foreign Office Consultation with a Myanmar delegation led by Permanent Secretary U Soe Han.
 
A statement from the MEA said both sides also held extensive discussions on the challenges posed by COVID-19 and ways to mitigate its impact, including through vaccine development, the supply of medicines, equipment and technology and capacity building.
 
Foreign Secretary Shringla reiterated the priority India attaches to its partnership with Myanmar in accordance with India's 'Neighborhood First' and 'Act East' policies. He stated that India remained committed to enhancing its multifaceted cooperation with Myanmar and also to explore new avenues of cooperation.
 
The Permanent Secretary also reaffirmed Myanmar's commitment to strengthen further its time tested partnership with India for the mutual benefit of the two countries.