Jaishankar On Pak: 'Very Difficult' To Engage With Neighbours Who Practice Cross-Border Terrorism

In the next month, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto is supposed to arrive in Goa for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which will also be attended by Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

In a veiled attack on Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said it is "very difficult" for India to engage with a neighbour who practises cross-border terrorism against the country.

His blunt remarks came days after Pakistan confirmed that its Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will visit India for a key meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa early next month.

"We both are members of the SCO. So, we typically attend meetings. We are the chair of (the SCO) this year. So, the meeting is taking place in India. The bottom line of this issue is that it is for us very difficult to engage with a neighbour who practises cross-border terrorism against us," Jaishankar said here at a joint press briefing on Monday with his counterpart from Panama Janaina Tewaney Mencomo.

 "We have always said that they have to deliver on the commitment not to encourage, sponsor and carry out cross-border terrorism. We continue to hope that one day we would reach that stage," Jaishankar added.

India has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.

Pakistan's foreign office announced on April 20 that Foreign Minister Bilawal would participate in the SCO meeting to be held in Goa on May 4-5. “Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO Charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch said at a weekly media briefing in Islamabad.

Bilawal's visit would be the highest-level trip to India by any Pakistani leader in recent years. The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

(With PTI inputs)