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Krishna reels under BJP assault

Krishna reels under BJP assault

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 1, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/192998/Krishna-reels-under-BJP-assault.html

Monumental lapse, India becoming subordinate ally to US: Jaitley

The Opposition on Friday grilled the Government in the Rajya Sabha on the India-Pakistan joint statement. It said it was a "monumental lapse" and the nation was becoming a "subordinate ally" of the US.

Trying to wriggle out, the Government said it was not possible to hold a dialogue with Pakistan in an atmosphere vitiated by violence or its threat. Replying to the debate on the working of his Ministry, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said this stand was encapsulated in the joint statement. He also said India "cannot and will not" be oblivious to the continued threat of terrorism emanating from Islamabad.

Facing a strident attack from Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, who termed the de-linking of dialogue from terror in the July 16 joint statement "a monumental lapse", the Minister said the statement reflected that "any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can only follow the fulfilment of the commitments not to allow their territory for use by terrorists against India."

Krishna also tried to deflect Jaitley's charge that the Government has eased the pressure on Pakistan to act against terror. It had told Pakistan in no uncertain terms that Islamabad must act against perpetrators of the Mumbai and other attacks.

Appealing to members not to give credence to what was being talked about the joint statement, Krishna said, "We are united against terrorism. But we will continue the consistent policy towards Pakistan, which includes dialogue in the steps we take."

The Minister preferred to read from a prepared text while answering the points raised by the members, who urged him to reply to their specific queries. But Krishna did not relent and went on to read his answer for more than an hour.

Jaitley said the Government was now trying to put forward an argument that it was carrying on the policy followed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with regards to improving relations with Pakistan. However, the Government cannot make Vajpayee the "shield" for its lapses and reverse India's consistent stand on Pakistan, the BJP leader said. Manmohan Singh has brought India to a position of weakness from strength, he added.

Jaitley said Singh reversed the process set into motion by his predecessor, as highlighted in the January 6, 2004, joint statement after Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharaf's talks, which said terrorism must be prevented to take forward dialogue and Pakistan would not permit its territory to support terrorism.

He said de-linking action on terrorism from composite dialogue "completely destroys the Vajpayee line... Praise for him cannot shield Prime Minister from the monumental lapses". On Wednesday, the Prime Minister had described Vajpayee as a "statesman" and said he shared his vision and frustration while dealing with Pakistan.

Citing a couplet in Urdu, Jaitley said "Muddaii ban ke gaye, Mudda alaeha ban ke loutey". Translating, he said India went to Sharm-el-Sheikh as a complainant, being the victim of terrorism, but came back with the "stigma" of Balochistan.

Criticising the Government, the Leader of Opposition said the Prime Minister on July 17 insisted that the "starting point" of any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan is its fulfilment not to allow its territory for terrorist activities against India. However, on July 29, the Prime Minister stated that it would be impossible for any Government in India to work towards "full normalisation" of relations with Pakistan unless it fulfils its commitment not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities, he added.

"The condition not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities against India is now only for full normalisation of relations and no longer for starting a composite dialogue with Pakistan... The joint declaration at Sharm-el Sheikh means irrespective of there being no action against terror, the dialogue can start," Jaitley said.

He said international relations were governed by joint statements and the agreed texts. He claimed the Government was now trying to say 'I mean what I wanted to mean' and quoted Alice in Wonderland in the context of reference to Balochistan in the joint statement. "So, the Government of India and the Prime Minister's stand now is, "I mean what I wanted to mean, and not what the language really says." When Alice asked Humpty, Dumpty, "How can clear words mean differently?", Humpty,Dumpty said, "It depends on who is the master, the word or me."

He then went to say the Government was now trying to say it had only two options available and it was either dialogue or war. "The moment the Prime Minister limits his options to dialogue or war, he brings India to a position of weakness because the other alternative is war. And, when you come down to a position of weakness and start negotiating, it is dialogue irrespective of terror," Jaitley said.

The CPI(M) joined the BJP in attacking the Government on its foreign policy and its leader Sitaram Yechury said the Government under US pressure issued the July 16 joint statement. He refused to buy the argument that it was a case of bad drafting and claimed the statement was the result of a "muddled mind".

Charging that India was now becoming a subordinate ally of the US, Yechury said the Balochistan reference in the statement also came about due to US pressure and now it would lead to a new bone of contention between India and Pakistan. He questioned the Government on the recent end-user agreement signed between India and the US for defence equipment and said it was a security threat and would jeopardise the sovereignity of the country.

Krishna, however, said all Governments have arrangements to ensure that defence-related weapons and equipment that were transferred did not fall into wrong hands and were only for legitimate use. The agreement provides for "joint consultations on modalities and in no way compromises our sovereignty or limits our sovereign choice of whether, where and what weapons we choose to buy for our national defence", he said. The Minister also said successive Governments had entered into such arrangements with supplier States, including the US.


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