'Pak must take demonstrable steps against terrorism'

Pakistan must take demonstrable steps against terror groups: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (DH Photo)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday lashed out at Pakistan for using "terror as a state policy" towards India rather than peacefully settling disputes through dialogue, and said it must take demonstrable steps against terror groups.

Addressing the 12th South Asia conference here, Singh said it is essential that terrorists and their ideological and financial networks are cut off and do not receive state support.

"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.

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

"Pakistan must take demonstrable steps against terror groups," he said.

India has always harboured the philosophy of hospitality driven by 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', Singh said as he quoted Sanskrit slokas to emphasise the idea of India's ethos of inclusivity and unity.

In the Modi government's second term, the country's neighbourhood has been recognised as the most important priority of its foreign policy, he said.

Leaders of SAARC were invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his swearing-in ceremony in 2014 and BIMSTEC leaders invited for the 2019 oath-taking event, indicating his emphasis on the neighbourhood, the Union minister said.

"As the largest country of the region, mindful of its asymmetric preponderance, and development aspirations of its neighbours, India has always made efforts to share its prosperity with the neighbourhood," Singh said.

India regards peace and prosperity in the neighbourhood as "critical" to its own growth and self-interest, he said in his address at the 12th South Asia Conference on India's 'Neighbourhood First' Policy: Regional Perceptions.

The conference hosted by defence think-tank IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), was also attended by Bhutanese Ambassador V Namgyel, and Sanjaya Baru, former media advisor to the prime minister.

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