Stressing that terror and talks cannot go together, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said India’s engagement with Pakistan would be based on strategic interests and enunciated Narendra Modi government’s foreign policy pillars or “Panchamrit” of dignity, dialogue, security and shared prosperity and culture.
In the first-ever separate resolution on foreign policy brought in its National Executive here, BJP attacked the previous Congress-led Government, saying “a cursory glance at the ‘lost decade’ of the UPA, reveals retreat and a loss of direction in engaging with neighbours, ham-handed diplomacy vis-a-vis Pakistan and a blind-spot in our foreign policy to the Indian Ocean island states.”
It lauded the Narendra Modi government’s initiatives taken on foreign policy, including the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s continuous engagements with world leaders in the last 10 months.
On Pakistan, the resolution said, “We have laid out a clear policy for building peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan, predicated on an end to terrorism.”
“There can be no compromise with terrorism. There can’t be any duplicity towards a problem that has become a regional crisis and is fast becoming an international nightmare.”
“All outstanding issues with Pakistan can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” it said.
It said the national ambition is “Bharat’s rise as a strong and respected world power” for which the government has adopted “Panchamrit”.
It spelt out ‘Panchamrit’ or 5 ‘S’ of the country’s foreign policy as ‘Samman’ or dignity and honour; ‘Samvad’ or greater engagement and dialogue; ‘Samriddhi’ or shared prosperity; ‘Suraksha’ or regional and global security; and ‘Sanskriti evam Sabhyata’ or cultural and civilisational linkages, the party said.
The BJP said Modi has pursued “a bold, proactive and innovative foreign policy that is aligned with our Government’s primary goal of accelerating national economic development; and to fulfil Bharat’s global responsibilities as the world’s most populous youth nation and largest democracy.
The entire resolution described the country as ‘Bharat’ instead of India .
The resolution criticised the previous UPA government’s approach in dealing with the international community, saying during the last decade it tended to weigh the nation down when New Delhi punched substantively below its weight in pushing through its foreign policy objectives, while often appearing side-lined in the international arena.
The UPA dispensation seemed grossly incapable of moulding Bharat’s foreign policy, national security and economic development imperatives into a composite and coherent policy framework, it alleged.
“Our government has, in a short span of ten months, transformed foreign policy into a major instrument to realise our national ambition of Bharat’s rise as a strong and respected world power,” the resolution said.
Party Spokesperson M J Akbar, who also spoke on the resolution, told reporters that Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu proposed it, while Swaraj summed up the foreign policy initiatives of the government that have helped the country emerge as a global power.
On Pakistan, Akbar said that “terror and talks cannot go together.”
The resolution said India has responded firmly and appropriately to provocations on the border and Line of Control and threats of infiltration and terrorism and the Prime Minister’s message to his counterpart on the occasion of Pakistan Day has been unambiguous that “all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence”.
The resolution further said, “Visit of our Foreign Secretary to Pakistan as part of the SAARC Yatra is a clear message to our neighbour that Bharat will engage with it only on such terms that reflect its national security and strategic interests.”
Modi Government has indicated that it will be revisiting institutions and policies.
‘Panchsheel’, enunciated by Jawaharlal Nehru, has been the defining doctrine of Indian foreign policy for decades. The five principles are mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.
The resolution also noted that the Prime Minister filleda long gap in many bilateral relations with visits to – Nepal after 17 years, Sri Lanka after 28 years, Australia after 28 years, Fiji after 33 years and Seychelles after 34 years.
Noting that despite “romantic sloganeering”, Bharat’s neighbourhood policy has largely remained lacklustre in the past decade, the resolution said, “Our excessive tilt in one direction left many countries in the neighbourhood apprehensive. The fact that we face innumerable problems with almost all our neighbours is evidence that we had not engaged with the neighbourhood properly in the past.”
Recalling that the previous NDA regime led by A B Vajpayee had initiated a marked positive shift in neighbourhood policy when relations with Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan was sought to be improved, it said, “that shift has now been furthered strengthened with a purposeful focus on the neighbourhood.”
On Sri Lanka policy, it said it had suffered several ups and downs in the last three decades. A short-sighted approach by the previous government, guided by domestic political ambitions, damaged bilateral relations leading to strategic problems in the immediate Indian Ocean neighbourhood, it said.
Modi’s determined effort at repairing these relations had resulted in a flurry of activity on both sides, it said.
“Our government has rebuilt relations with all sections of the Sri Lankan society. Our Prime Minister became the firstPrime Minister of Bharat to visit Jaffna. He invoked his ideaof cooperative federalism and stressed upon the 13th Amendment and beyond.”
“With Nepal, we have entered a new era of cooperation that has eluded us for decades.,” the resolution said, noting among others that nearly two decades after signing the Mahakali Treaty with Nepal, the Pancheshwar Development Authority had been constituted for the 5600 MW multi-purpose Pancheshwar Project, which will provide power, water and flood control benefits.
Translating a hesitant ‘Look East Policy’ into a pro-active ‘Act East Policy’ is a major achievement of the Modi government in maritime neighbourhood policy, the resolution said.
The new policy thrust in maritime neighbourhood is critical to country’s economy and security and for stability and prosperity of Asia.
“This was the central focus of our Prime Minister’s visits to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.”
On major world powers, it said Bharat’s relations with United States, Japan, Russia and China had received a tremendous boost in last ten months. Modi’s personal rapport with leaders of most of these big powers has helped catapult Bharat to a significant role in the big power orbit, it said.
On relations with China, the resolution said under two new leaders Bharat-China relations have acquired more depth and strength.
In a “bold yet pragmatic move”, the Prime Minister has given a go-by to practise of freezing issues of conflict by bringing more focus on all outstanding issues with China including the border violations and trade deficit concerns.
The highly successful visit of President Xi Jinping to Delhi marked the opening of a new chapter in our bilateral relations, it said.
“…With China, we will follow the policy of engagement and pragmatic cooperation, but at the same time continue to devise strategies to deal with its growing economic and military strength.”
Referring to the Indian diaspora, it said about 30 million strong diaspora of Bharatwasis – both the NRIs and the PIOs – had largely been a neglected lot all these years.
For the first time, it said, a concerted effort has been made to attend to the grievances and requirements of millions of diaspora Bharatwasis.
“Wherever our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister went, they reached out to the community specifically and interacted with them.”
“The Bharatiya community today not only feels more connected to Bharat, but has responded enthusiastically to his call to become stakeholders in Bharat’s new transformation campaign.
Observing that Bharat cannot be immune to the “toxic fumes” of war that have engulfed vast stretches in the Middle East and parts of Africa, it noted that Governments have lost control and shadow armies and Jehadists are running amok.
“This is also a battle between the proponents of faith-supremacy and those committed to faith-pluralism. Bharat cannot be impervious to a crisis that could threaten the promise of the 21st century as an era of peaceful economic growth. We must continue to work in partnership with the democratic and civilised world to eliminate terrorist militias and their sponsors wherever they may be.”