India will not hold talks with Pakistan as long as New Delhi’s nuclear-armed neighbor continues to support terrorism in South Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a foreign policy speech. “India alone cannot walk the path of peace, it also has to be Pakistan’s journey to make,” Modi said at a conference in New Delhi. “Pakistan must walk away from terror if it wants to walk toward dialogue with India.” Modi, who also made comments about China’s role in South Asia, said in a likely reference to Pakistan that countries in the region that export terrorism stand “isolated and ignored.” Ties between India and Pakistan worsened in September when Indian soldiers struck across the de facto border that divides the Pakistan- and Indian-administered parts of Kashmir. The military strike was in response to a terrorist attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers.
India’s prime minister, who is facing crucial state-level elections in February, also made rare remarks on India’s tense relationship with China. Modi said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping — who gave a speech on Tuesday to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — have agreed to “tap” the vast business opportunities that exist between their two countries. However, Modi also referred to simmering strategic tensions between India and China that continue to worry Indian analysts and policy makers. He said “it is not unnatural for two large neighboring powers to have some differences.” In particular, Modi appeared to make a veiled reference to Beijing’s $46 billion investment in the massive China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The infrastructure corridor stretches from China’s far west Xinjiang province through the disputed region of Kashmir, before ending at the Pakistan port of Gwadar. India has partnered to build a strategic port on the Iranian coast with Tehran and Afghanistan. “We appreciate the compelling logic of regional connectivity for peace, progress and prosperity,” Modi said. “However, equally, connectivity in itself cannot override or undermine the sovereignty of other nations. Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfill their promise and avoid differences and discord.”