Talks and terror cannot co-exist: BJP; bilateral dialogue must go on, says Congress

There seems to be near perfect agreement between the Congress and the BJP on need for Pakistan to dismantle its terror infrastructure and be more proactive in bringing to justice known faces of terror moving around freely in that country, but there the similarity of their views ends.

The BJP feels that a fruitful dialogue with Pakistan without credible evidence of steps towards unwinding the terror machine is not possible while the Congress view, in line with the government thinking, is that the decision taken in Thimphu earlier this year to take the stalled bilateral dialogue forward must not be reversed as a result of the recent Osama-related events.

The BJP's core committee discussed the hunting down of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on Wednesday and came to the conclusion that “talks and terror cannot co-exist.”

It asserted in a statement that “Pakistan is a sponsor of and user of terror and not its victim.” For after all “the fact that Osama was housed in a mansion close to a Pakistani military academy establishes that Pakistan is the epicentre of global terrorism harbouring the most wanted global terrorist.”

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The Sharm-el-Sheikh approach should be scrapped … There is need for a hard appraisal of the reality on the ground … no fruitful dialogue is possible as long as Pakistan continues to sponsor terrorism.”

But, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan argued: The government has consistently said Pakistan must dismantle the terror infrastructure, and it has never compromised on that. Even while saying this, it has emphasised that the dialogue with our western neighbour must continue.

While acknowledging that “normal progress” in talks would be difficult until terrorist activity sponsored from across the border ended, she said it would be better if the BJP were to stop politicising the issue. 

Asked whether India should emulate the American example and “take out” those responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, she said, “You are advocating the doctrine of hot pursuit. The context for India is different, because Pakistan is our neighbour. We will pursue the matter in our own way.”

The BJP saw a “palpable disconnect” among the statements issued by Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh after the killing of Osama. They felt that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's desire to normalise relations with Pakistan must be “tempered by the reality on the ground.”

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