By Prashant Sood
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Congress leader and former union minister Salman Khursid has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted his own private success story with Pakistan and was pursuing a “policeman’s foreign policy” which was a disaster.
Khurshid, the external affairs minister in the previous UPA government of prime minister Manmohan Singh, said there had been no significant returns to the country from Modi’s visits abroad in over a year of National Democratic Alliance government.
He said better relations between the government and the opposition in the country was a must to bring about a national consensus on ties with Pakistan.
“You can’t talk to another country when it is only half the voice of the nation. Unless full nation speaks, you cannot succeed with another country. And the big mistake Mr Modi is making is he wants to make his own private success story with Pakistan. That is not possible. That has never been possible. It is not possible now,” Khurshid told IANS in an interview.
Border tensions have erupted between India and Pakistan within days of a bilateral meeting between Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city of Ufa on July 10 in which both leaders agreed to a series of steps to improve bilateral ties.
Asked if Pakistan had made an about-turn from its position in Ufa, Khurshid said, “They are never capable or sincere in dealing with India’s concerns.”
“We have seen this over and over again. For anyone who is seeing it as an about-turn, we are fooling ourselves. It was never really intended by Pakistan to come on board with India’s concerns on security. It was done because they wanted to show something to the world and Mr. Modi wanted to show something to India,” Khurshid said, adding that Modi had a great panache for quickfixes.”
He also said that Modi was dealing with Pakistan in a pure tactical manner.
“Whatever Modi decides he has to do with Pakistan must have some strategic inputs. I think he does not really rely on adequate level of strategic inputs,” Khurshid said.
Asked if the government consulted the opposition on issues concerning Pakistan, Khurshid said: “That is their biggest inadequacy. I believe they like to do things on their own. That’s not the way democratic governments work. That is not the way the government of India worked, when we were in power.”
Asked about his remarks that Modi government’s foreign policy was failure, Khurshid said “it has not delivered anything anywhere.”
“They have not told us what they want to do. Just going everywhere and getting 21 gun salutes is not what diplomacy is about. Diplomacy is about furthering your national interest, making your presence felt and and getting your high priority items. What have we received in the last one year by way of delivery from any country that Mr Modi has visited,” Khurshid asked.
“I think a policeman’s foreign policy is what he is pursuing and a policeman’s foreign policy, to my mind, is a disaster. Policeman’s foreign policy is when you think you can play one against the other. When you can try to be smart with everybody else, not sincere with anyone. That’s the policeman’s foreign policy and that is more than apparent here,” he added.
Asked about performance of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, his successor in the ministry, Khurshid said “she hasn’t had the freedom to function.
“She would have done much better if she had the freedom. I think the prime minister likes to keep this area largely to himself. That’s their choice.”
Asked about the party’s prospects in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Bihar, Khurshid said the party was “very small” in the state compared to Janata Dal-United and Rashtriya Janata Dal, but hoped to make gains.
“I hope there is a good, solid secular coalition,” Khurshid said.
Asked about the timing of Gandhi’s elevation as party president, Khurshid said:
“He has a very clear head about how things should shape up and sequence of events. I will go by his instincts and his directions rather than my emotions,” Khurshid said.
Asked about perception that Gandhi was more active and articulate after his sabbatical earlier this year, Khurshid said the party leader may have reworked his strategy.
“I think he is always what he is now but there was something being lost in translation. I think he has probably worked out his strategy afresh”.
He said there was a sense of excitement in the party. “We were very subdued after the defeat but I think we have come out of that.”
(Prashant Sood can be reached at Prashant.firstname.lastname@example.org)