Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
Photo by ANI

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday lashed out at Pakistan for using “terrorism as a state policy” towards India rather than peacefully settling disputes through dialogue, and said it must take “demonstrable steps” against terror groups responsible for launching various attacks on India from its soil.

Addressing a conference here, Singh also targeted Pakistan over the SAARC impasse, saying the full potential of the bloc has not been realised due to the “behaviour and policies of a single country”.

He said it is essential that terrorists and their ideological and financial networks are cut off and do not receive state support.

“We have made it clear that talks and terror cannot go together and that Pakistan must take demonstrable steps against terror groups responsible for launching various attacks on India from its soil,” he said at the 12th South Asia Conference on ‘India’s Neighbourhood First Policy: Regional Perceptions’.

Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama attacks are “grim reminders of state-sponsored terrorism by a neighbouring country”, Singh said, while asserting that the South Asia region must unite in its efforts to defeat terrorism.

In a statement released by the Defence Ministry in the evening, Singh was quoted as saying that India is fully capable of giving a firm response to cross-border terrorism, and strikes against terrorist attacks in 2016 and 2019 have demonstrated the nation’s firm resolve to tackle the menace.

On India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, the Union minister said, “India is engaged in conversations with its neighbours except one country in order to develop a joint approach for regional peace and security.

“True pathway to regional peace and security lies in understanding each other’s sensitivities and following basic principles of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,” he said.

“With exception of one country, and I would like to say frankly Pakistan, our region has adhered to the principle,” Singh said.

The defence minister cited how the SAARC motor vehicles agreement was stalled at the last Kathmandu session in 2015, in a direct reference to Pakistan.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

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