Sitharaman hits out Chidambaram over statement on Indo-Pak ties, asks Congress to clear stand

NEW DELHI: Slamming former Union minister P Chidambaram's statement that India must change its behaviour towards Pakistan, Defence minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday asked the Congress to clear its stand on the issue.

She questioned if the Congress wants the Government of India "to stop taking action against terrorists", "compromise" country's territory and accept that Jammu and Kashmir is a "disputed" territory".

After his party's manifesto that was "pummelled for being friendly and kind" towards the terrorists, the statement by Chidambaram has further "worsened" the Congress' position, Sitharaman said at a press conference at BJP headquarters.

At an event hosted by Observer Research Foundation(ORF) on Sunday, Chidambaram had said that in order to bring a change in Pakistan's behaviour, India must also change its behaviour towards the neighbouring country.

The former home minister also said that a way must be found to normalise the India-Pakistan relations so as to answer the country's "biggest external challenge" in terms of security and various other aspects.

Sitharaman said it was the "most surprising" statement, particularly during elections, coming from a national party like the Congress.

"I would like to ask the Congress party what is the behavioural change that they are asking for... .

"Do they want us to draw a moral parity between the perpetrators of terror and violence, and its victims, or do they want us to start negotiating even as terror continues. So what are those changes in the position India has to undertake as expected by the Congress," she said.

Its "astonishing" that a senior leader has come out to say that India's position has to change, Sitharaman said and added that it's up to the Congress to clarify the statement

Referring to the Congress' promise of reviewing AFPSA and removing the sedition law, she said, "They came up with a manifesto that is pummelled by everybody for being so friendly and kind for terrorists, rather than keeping in mind India's national security."

"They have further worsened their position by asking for a behavioural change from India," the BJP leader said.

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PTI