Can't have segmented fight against terrorism: Jaishankar

New Delhi:Without naming Pakistan, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Friday said that there cannot be a segmented fight against terrorism by differentiating between state and non-state actors.

"The state cannot escape responsibility by saying it is non-state," Jaishankar said while speaking at the International Media Conference here organised by the East West Center, a US-based institution for public diplomacy.

"We have always maintained the view that acting against some groups is not a justification for giving a free pass, leave alone active support, for other groups," he said. 

"So, you can't have a segmented, differentiated fight against terrorists."

Jaishankar's comments come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated "strongest action" against state sponsors of terrorism at the annual India-Asean Summit and the East Asia Summit held in Vientiane, Laos, on Thursday.

India-Pakistan relations have soured in recent times following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir in July. Pakistan described Wani as a "martyr".

Over 70 people have died in large-scale violence in the state since then.

In his speech at Friday's conference, the Foreign Secretary also said that India and China should partner in the fight against terrorism.

"There is an expectation in India that a partner like China would be appreciative of India's interests, especially when they are not in conflict with those of China," he said. 

"Combating terrorism is one such area and sanctioning of well-known terrorist leaders and organisations should not emerge as an issue of difference," he stated . 

In March this year, China vetoed India's request to the UN Security Council sanctions committee to include the name of Masood Azhar, the head of the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohamed, in its list of terrorists.

India has accused the JeM of being the perpetrator of the January 2 cross-border terror attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in which seven Indian security personnel lost their lives.

Jaishankar also said that China should not have reservations about India in connection with developmental issues "such as India's predictable access to international cooperation and investments in the field of civil nuclear energy". 

"It is imperative for the future of Asia, and indeed the world, that the two nations approach each other with strategic maturity."

China had blocked India's bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at its plenary in Seoul in June on the ground that a country has to be a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to be a member of the 48-member bloc. 

Jaishankar also stressed on India's Act East Policy saying it offered "game-changing possibilities".

"There is also a broad recognition that physical connectivity to the east offers game-changing possibilities not only for our relationship with the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), but also to the economic future of India's northeastern and eastern states," he said. 

"Consequently, higher priority is being accorded to key infrastructure projects with Myanmar that could accomplish this objective, including the Kaladan multi-modal transport project that links to Sittwe Port (in Myanmar), and the completion of the trilateral highway that would extend to Thailand (from Moreh in Manipur). 

"Recent visits to Indo-China have also underlined the interest of CMLV (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam) nations in further road connectivity to Vietnam."

The Foreign Secretary said that Asean remained at the core of India's vision looking eastwards. 

"In the last decade, commerce has grown 10-fold to the $70 billion level and it accounts for roughly 10 percent of India's global trade," he stated. 

"Political and security cooperation with Asean members has expanded steadily. This is a region where we have high cultural comfort.". 

He said India believed that the cohesion of Asean strengthens regional stability and looks forward to its continued engagement with the 10-nation bloc.

"Japan and South Korea, along with Asean, stand out as natural partners in this context," he added.