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Rajnath Singh Says Want Good Relations With Pak, Lays Out One Condition to Restart Dialogue

The home minister said the Balakot air strikes were an issue of national pride, and hence, should not be used for political campaigns.


Updated:March 15, 2019, 10:33 PM IST

New Delhi: The audacious aerial strikes carried out by India in response to the Pulwama terror attack should not be used for political campaigning, senior party leader and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told News18 in an exclusive conversation.

Singh spoke to News18 Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi at length on a range of issues from the Balakot strike, to Imran Khan’s offer of dialogue.

On the subject of aerial strikes itself, Singh said it was “understandable that Pakistan was stunned” by what India had done and that it would deny the attacks or question the evidence in support of them.

“But the air strikes should not be linked to elections. It is an issue of national pride and hence it should not be politicised,” Singh told News18.

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Calling the armed forces “guardians of country’s frontiers, security and political system”, the Election Commission recently warned parties against making reference to them in their poll campaigns. Cracking whip on errant party leaders, the EC has also issued notices to a BJP MLA, a BJP MP and a Congress leader for violating these norms.

Singh also spoke about the offer made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan – to start dialogue with India. He said India also wanted to maintain good relations with its neighbour but it had to prove its seriousness by taking some action against terror camps.

“We can have a dialogue with Pakistan. We also want to have good relations with a neighbouring country. But terrorism and dialogue cannot go hand in hand,” Singh said.

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To a question of what Pakistan needed to do in order to come to a discussion table with India, Singh said “There should be an initiative by the Pak government to destroy all terror camps on their land. They must ensure that no patronage is given to terror on Pak soil. If they do so, then we can talk. They must wipe out terrorist camps and say it clearly that they won't allow their soil to be sued by terrorists. Take action against them.”

The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier this week had restated India’s position on Pakistan’s offer of dialogue – that talks and terror can’t go together – while daring the Pakistan PM Imran Khan that if he “is so generous and a statesman, he should give us Masood Azhar.”

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