Soon after Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit declared the dialogue process with India suspended on Thursday, the Union government faced a barrage of criticism from opposition parties for allegedly pandering to the neighbouring state at the cost of India’s pride.
The strongest remark came from Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was solely responsible for the way Pakistan had snubbed India. “Today’s announcements (on suspension of the dialogue process) by Pak are a slap on India’s face, thanks to our PM,” he tweeted.
The AAP leader said BJP president Amit Shah had given Pakistan a “clean chit” by “lauding” its efforts. “Every Indian is feeling anguished today,” he said, adding that Modi should apologise in this regard.
The Congress’ attack on Modi was nearly as scathing. Accusing the Prime Minister of walking into a situation that repeatedly led to national embarrassment, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said: “By permitting a Pakistani joint investigation team (JIT) to visit India, we have taken the wrong decision. Instead, an NIA team should have visited Pakistan to probe the role of (JeM chief) Masood Azhar.”
Pakistan also hinted on Thursday that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) may not be given access to Azhar, who is accused of orchestrating the Pathankot attack.
“Pakistan has tried to give an impression even in today’s statement that India – a victim of targeted terrorism – is the one that’s fermenting trouble. Nothing can be termed as a more serious setback,” Sharma said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, on the other hand, questioned the government’s Pakistan policy. “It is extremely unfortunate that Pakistan has decided to take this position. But a more fundamental question is: Are we ourselves to be blamed for Pakistan’s belligerence? There is a need for this government to get off the high horse of jingoism and really introspect and retrospect on their Pakistan policy over the past 22 months,” Tewari told ANI.
He described the BJP government’s policy as a “story of flip-flops and U-turns” that has allowed Pakistan and its terror groups to “run circles around India”.
The Congress came down heavily on the Union government’s decision to allow a JIT from Pakistan to visit India for investigating the Pathankot attack, a move that the Opposition has been protesting against for the last few weeks.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, for his part, termed Basit’s statement as a “body blow” on the Prime Minister’s Pakistan policy. “PM Modi’s Pakistan policy has been delivered a body blow today. Surprisingly, the dialogue has been called off by Pakistan,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
Basit had said during an interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club in New Delhi that the bilateral peace process between India and Pakistan stands “suspended”. Accusing India of creating unrest in its territory, he said Pakistan will not allow Indian investigators to travel there because the JIT’s visit to Pathankot was not based on reciprocity.