August 21, 2018
New Delhi: Terming Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan a non-issue since he went there in his personal capacity, the party on Tuesday turned to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him as to what happened to the red lines of ‘no-talks’ till terror from Pakistan stops.
It said the PM’s letter to his newly elected counterpart Imran Khan was to “obfuscate this government’s lack of policy.”
Modi has written to Khan saying India desires “constructive engagement” with Islamabad. The Congress has demanded that the Prime Minister should make the letter public to clear the air about multiple narratives about ‘resumtion of dialogue’ with Pakistan.
The party said India and Pakistan relations are extremely complicated. “Navjot Singh Sidhu is not the issue,” it emphasized.
“The real issue is the relationship between India and Pakistan, the impact of the India-Pakistan stand-off on South Asia and the complete absence of the NDA-BJP government’s policy towards Pakistan,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.
“There seems to be a suggestion of resumption of a dialogue despite all the red lines,” he said. “These lines mean that there will be no talks till terror from Pakistan stops, till the trial of the 26/11 perpetrators is not resumed, till Lakhvi is not put back in the prison, till Hafiz Saeed, who heads the Jamat-ud-Dawa, is not incarcerated,” he said.
“So there has been a concerted attempt by the government to try and obfuscate this. That is the real issue,” he added.
On government contradicting Pakistan’s foreign minister’s claim on PM’s offer on India’s overtures for talks with Pakistan, Tewari said: “The difficulty with this government is, it only speaks through sources on uncomfortable questions.”
“You have a second narrative on ‘sources in India’ which says that no such offer has been made. So why does not the Prime minister make the letter public, which he has written to Prime Minister Imran Khan?” he asked.
“I think, it would be appropriate that the letter be put it in the public space so that the whole thing can be clarified. And may I also add, I don’t see the government doing so,” he added.
Tewai said it was not the responsibility of the Congress to suggest a policy. “We conceptualized policy and implemented it for 10 years while we were in government,” he said.
“The NDA-BJP government has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous on their Pakistan policy,” he said.