India PM Narendra Modi walks the talk against Pakistan, infuriates Congress

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 19 2014, 22:09pm hrs
Congress today kept up the attack on NDA over cancellation of India-Pakistan talks even as the government and BJP said the neighbouring country cannot "walk with separatism and talk with Government of India" simultaneously.

Hitting out at the government, Congress leader Manish Tewari said it was in a "sonorous slumber" over the Pakistan issue.

He said the government has "completely walked itself into a corner" on the Pakistan policy and termed the talks between Hurriyat leaders and Pakistan a "ritual", which the neighbouring country always follows before any interaction between the two nations.

"So they first agreed to talk to Pakistan, that also in Islamabad, notwithstanding all this background. The government was in sonorous slumber and when there was a protest, it woke up and indulged in a knee-jerk reaction.

"Now with the separatists challenging the government and the Pakistan High Commissioner cocking a dare at the government that they are still going ahead with their proposed interactions, what does government of India do the next. What is the strategy of the Government of India towards Pakistan," Tewari asked.

Justifying the move, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "The point is very simple. Either Pakistan should talk to the Government of India or they should talk to separatists.

They chose to talk to the separatists first inspite of clearly being told that if this persistence is there, it will be difficult to pursue the dialogue."

He rued that despite this having been made clear from the Indian side, "yet the Pakistani High Commissioner called them.

It was not fair. The point is simple. We have always said that you can change your friends but not your neighbours.

"But who is in control of Pakistan today is a problem. We have different voices there. Let a clarity emerge as to what is the level of preparation and understanding at the level of Pakistan to have the dialogue at the level of Secretaries."

Angered by Pakistan's consultations with Kashmiri separatists, India had yesterday cancelled the talks scheduled to be held in Islamabad on August 25.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Pakistan should understand that policies of India with regard to terrorism and separatism are same but "there has been a change of government, leadership and intention (Nijam, Netritva and Neeyat" here.

Naqvi said cancelling talks is some sort of message to Pakistan that both "walking with terrorism and separatism and talk with Government of India" won't go simultaneously.

"They will patronise separatism and terrorism and then also seek peace talks. How will this continue," he said.

Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, however, said it was "not a genuine reason" to cancel talks as "we had been talking (to Pakistan) during Congress regime as well as during the tenure of (NDA's Prime Minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well. This is not a new thing."

Geelani said it is "very unfortunate" that the government of India has cancelled the scheduled Foreign Secretary level talks.

"India should not have done it. The ground that has been made to cancel the talks is not a genuine cause," he insisted.

Separatist leaders had yesterday said that they would go ahead with their meeting with Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in Delhi tomorrow even after India cancelled the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Tewari also attacked the Centre over the issue of Chinese incursion.

"It is unfortunate that the Chinese Army has intruded up to 25 kilometres in the Indian territory in Northern Ladakh and the explanation being given by the government is that this is not intrusion and that they (the Chinese) have come up to their perception line.

"If the government's statement is taken at face value, then we should also remember that China has shown Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin and Karakoram also as its parts in maps.

Will the Indian government, going by this argument, allow China to intrude in these areas as well," he asked.

Tewari said that it is very unfortunate that when the BJP was in Opposition, it used to accuse then UPA government of "selling the country's honour" but after coming into power, it was "keeping mum on intrusions whether they are happening from Pakistan or China".