Congress president Rahul Gandhi today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not have a "deeply thought-out strategy" on Pakistan, but acknowledged that it was "very difficult" to converse with Islamabad as there is no single institution there that holds supremacy.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not have a “deeply thought-out strategy” on Pakistan, but acknowledged that it was “very difficult” to converse with Islamabad as there is no single institution there that holds supremacy. Addressing the International Institute of Strategic Studies here, Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit, talked about Indo-Pak relations which nosedived following a spate of terror attacks on Indian military bases by Pakistan-based terror groups since January 2016.
India has made it clear that it will not hold dialogue with Pakistan as terrorism and talks cannot go hand-in-hand. Gandhi said that “there is no deeply thought-out strategy by Prime Minister Modi when it comes to Pakistan”. He also said that it was very difficult to deal with Pakistan. Pakistan’s powerful military has ruled the country for nearly half of its history since independence in 1947.
Answering a question on how India could improve its relations with Pakistan, now that there is a new elected government, Gandhi said: “as regards to Pakistan, the question is whom do you talk to in Pakistan. From our perspective, there are a number of institutions in Pakistan (that rule). “The difficulty from Indian perspective is which institution you talk to. Some of the institutions are hostile to India. Some of the institutions are attacking India”. Gandhi said: “It’s very difficult to converse with Pakistan because there is no one institution that holds supremacy”. “So we wait until they come to form a cohesive structure,” he said at the London-based think-tank, apparently referring to the new government in Pakistan led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Gandhi noted that if India were to sign an agreement with the Prime Minister of the UK, “all institutions accept PM’s supremacy. That is not the case with Pakistan. India will have to wait till such a time when there is a coherent system in place in Pakistan. He cited the example of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan. “Vajpayee ji went to Pakistan with good intention. While he was having deliberations with his Pakistani counterpart (Nawaz Sharif), the army attacked India (Kargil War in 1999). I don’t think there is a readymade solution now,” he said.
Gandhi lashed out at the Modi government, saying it lacked a coherent foreign policy strategy based on India’s strength. “One of my important complaints against the present government is that I don’t see a coherent foreign policy strategy based on India’s strength. I see tactical responses, I see knee jerk reactions but I don’t seek a strategic vision. I don’t see consistency in its foreign policy, that is the problem,” he said.
Referring to India’s relations with Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, he said: “I don’t see a clear strategic response. I don’t think you can run the foreign policy like that”. The Congress president said: “In going forward, India has to have a relationship with the West”.
India has to have a relationship with the West, have strategic relationship with the US while also have relationship with EU and China, he said. “China is rising and India has to play a balancing role. India has some of the designer role, some of the ideas to bring people together and build bridges to make the world a safer place,” Gandhi said.
Replying to a question on the greatest foreign policy challenge that India faces in the next few years, he said: “The biggest challenge is that we are clearly in a transition. China is emerging and emerging very fast, and China is our neighbour. We have strategic relationship with the US and to me the central challenge is balancing when you position yourself between the Chinese and the West”. Gandhi said India has specialised in reducing global confrontation. From a philosophical perspective, he said: “we have more in common with Europe and USA and we share history with the UK”.