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Yeni Safak 01.03.19 (India not eager for war, determined to fight terrorism)

India not eager for war, determined to fight terrorism

‘We are a responsible power. I think the world need not wonder whether India will cause any confusion,’ says Indian envoy
Sanjay Bhattacharyya, India’s ambassador to Ankara

New Delhi welcomes Pakistan’s decision to release a captured Indian Air Force pilot and asks Turkey to play its due role in urging Pakistan to “stop cross-border terrorism,” India’s ambassador to Ankara said Thursday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sanjay Bhattacharyya answered questions on a wide range of issues that have recently made headlines.

“We welcome the initiative of [Pakistan’s] PM to release the Indian pilot. That is what is expected with war combatants,” said Bhattacharyya.

“That is what the Geneva Convention provides for. We are pleased that Pakistan is abiding by its international commitments.”

Welcoming Turkey’s positive but cautious approach to the crisis, Bhattacharyya said India “highly appreciated the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s statement and Turkey’s sentiments.”

On Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s phone call Thursday with Turkish President RecepTayyipErdogan, seeking Turkey's help in diffusing tensions, Bhattacharyya said India and Pakistan have agreements under which they have decided that they will resolve matters bilaterally.

“Turkey of course is a great friend of both India and Pakistan. Turkey is also a country that has herself experienced cross-border terrorism. We expect Turkey to play its due role in urging Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism,” Bhattacharyya said.

Asked if the tensions will turn into a full-scale war, Bhattacharyya recalled that “India is a land of peace and democracy where Buddha and Gandhi came” and ruled it out.
“We are a responsible power. I think the world need not wonder whether India will cause any confusion.”

Bhattacharyya added that India is not at war with Pakistan but only fighting terrorism.
However, he said pre-emptive actions will continue in the future to protect the interests of the Indian people and India's territorial integrity.

“We have had several rounds of discussions with Pakistan, and we have had several agreements on this issue [terrorism]. Since 2005, we have been sharing data with them on terrorist groups, on their camps, on the activities of their leaders,” said Bhattacharyya.

“They have done nothing against the cross-border terrorism for decades. That is the issue the Pakistani side needs to address.”

Bhattacharyya also said India bombed Jaish-e-Muhammad’s largest training camp in Pakistan on February 26 as a “pre-emptive action against a terrorist organization on credible information, and not as a retaliatory operation” against Pakistan.

The militant group claimed responsibility for a deadly terrorist attack on February 14 that killed at least 40 Indian security personnel.

Bhattacharyya stressed that India carried out the operation very carefully and only used precision-guided munitions to avoid civilian casualties and Pakistani military installations.

He said Pakistan, in response, attacked Indian military installations and underlined the “significant difference” between the two operations.

Asked whether India ignores the indigenous independence movements in Kashmir, Bhattacharyya said India and Pakistan had entered into bilateral agreements on how to deal with this issue and called any other argument “storytelling.”

Regarding allegations by the Pakistani authorities that Indian President Narendra Modi is escalating tensions in a bid to secure more votes in upcoming elections, Bhattacharyya dismissed them, saying the elections have no impact on what is going on.

He also said India will only be the guest of honour at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) meeting Friday in the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi.

He concluded his remarks by saying that India would be very happy to join the Muslim organization if the invitation comes.


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