By Prashant Sood,
New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not told the “truth” to the opposition about the conversations he has had with the Pakistani leadership and the government’s policy vis-a-vis the neighbouring country had reached a “dead end”, says former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
He also feels India is losing its grip on the world in foreign policy and has gone into the US camp with very little returns.
“Our policy on Pakistan is at a dead end. We are losing people every day. We keep saying we are giving it back to them. Years of losing civilians and soldiers and years of saying we are giving it back to them isn’t really my idea of a good foreign policy,” Khurshid told IANS in an interview.
“Pakistan is a slippery, difficult creature and (dealing with) that is what diplomacy is about,” he added.
Khurshid, a senior Congress leader, said it was more than clear that “we do not have a war option with Pakistan”.
“So our failure is writ large. We have to find a solution. It is not our job in the opposition to give him a solution unless he consults with us. Unless he asks us what can be done. But this is not something that can be allowed to go on indefinitely,” he said.
Asked if the Congress party had any suggestions for the government, he said, “We have no suggestions except that he should first tell us to the truth”.
“He has never told us the truth about Pakistan; what he has said to them, what does he do (in) meetings with them, what does he share, what do they promise. He must share with us something before we can tell him what to do,” Khurshid said.
The former minister said India has been unable to go “beyond a certain point with our agenda as far as the US is concerned”.
“Yes, I certainly think we have gone into the US camp. We have got very little in return. We used to get concrete results from being with the (erstwhile) Soviet Union — not just with it, but with the rest of the world that was aligned towards socialism. So I think there are major issues there. And we have gone in blind, we haven’t calculated properly.”
Khurshid, whose latest book “Triple Talaq: Examining Faith” has hit the stands, said India was getting global attention not because of its foreign policy but because of its economic potential.
“Our markets are forcing people to show interest and the Indian diaspora is playing an increasingly important role in the world. These things give us stature.
“This is not the kind of stature we had when India provided leadership to the Third World under (Prime Minister Jawaharlal) Nehru and the comfort India had when the Soviet Union stood strongly with India and India was an exponent of non-alignment,” he said.
He said Modi has shown an “enormous amount of energy of salesmanship” and has done a reasonably effective job in this respect because of his oratory.
“I don’t think in foreign policy, if you look around the neighbourhood, if you look around West Asia, if you look around Europe, if you look at Africa, I don’t think we have a consistently coordinated foreign policy posture that will be appreciated in the world. The way we are jumping from leg to leg on Israel and Palestine, the way we are dealing with China vis-a-vis Japan and China itself, the way we are keeping a very low relationship with Russia,” he said.
Khurshid, who was External Affairs Minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, said India was consulted on major international flashpoints in the past — but that was no longer the case.
“In the past, nothing moved without India being consulted. Today, in Syria nobody wants to know what India thinks, in Iraq nobody wants to know what India thinks. I think we are losing our grip on the world as far as foreign policy is concerned,” he said.
(Prashant Sood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)