Urdu is India’s language too: Sushma Swaraj


New Delhi: Facing criticism from some quarters for speaking in Urdu to media in Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that she did nothing wrong as it was India’s language as well.

While making a statement in Lok Sabha on her visit to Pakistan, Swaraj said, “I have been criticized for speaking in Urdu to Pakistani media. I would like to tell such people that Urdu is also an Indian language. Pakistan does not have a monopoly over it. If I can speak in Sanskrit in the World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok, why can’t I speak in Urdu in Pakistan?

Swaraj on Monday hoped that the renewed dialogue between India and Pakistan will open a new chapter of peace and development in the region.

She said it had been decided that a “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” will start and foreign secretaries of the two countries will work out the modalities under the “new dialogue”.

“The new dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region,” she said.

Swaraj said India had emphasized the need to speed up the judicial process in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack by Pakistani terrorists.

The minister said her meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and senior official Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad were held in the backdrop of “positive developments” of the talks by the two national security advisers.

“Both sides condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace. There we dwelt on the need for Pakistan to expedite the Mumbai terrorist attack trial.

“The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite its early conclusion.

“This government accords the highest priority to the country’s security. In order to meet the threats, the government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels.

“At the same time, the government is also committed to building an environment of peaceful and cooperative relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan, so that the efforts for peace and development in South Asia, initiated by the government on the day of assuming office itself, are taken further forward,” she said.

The minister said there were two aims of the dialogue: addressing the issues of concern through dialogue and establishing cooperative relations.

The national security advisers met in Bangkok on December 6.

“They focused on peace and security, terrorism, tranquillity along the Line of Control, and Jammu and Kashmir, the state which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LoC,” she said.

The statement was made earlier in the Rajya Sabha amid din as Congress members trooped near the chairman’s podium and shouted slogans.

While the statement was barely audible in Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was in order when the statement was made post lunch.

(With inputs from agencies)