Opposition parties on Monday sought clarification from the Prime Minister in Parliament on the national security adviser-level talks between India and Pakistan, accusing the government of making a fundamental departure from its stated position with respect to the neighbouring country.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the fact that foreign secretaries accompanied the NSAs (national security advisers) of the two countries during their Bangkok meeting indicated the scope of engagement had been expanded.
“This is a fundamental departure from the position that was conveyed to this House in the last session,” Sharma said, seeking a clarification from the PM, whom the NSA reports to.
Though the government did not commit to a statement by the PM, the junior minister for parliamentary affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said foreign minister Sushma Swaraj would make a statement in both Houses of Parliament on December 10 on every point raised by the Opposition.
In the Lok Sabha, Trinamool’s Saugata Roy proposed an adjournment motion on the NSA talks but speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected it.
The ruling PDP in Jammu & Kashmir welcomed the talks. “The PDP-BJP agenda of alliance said talks should be held. Kashmir witnessed a tangible positive change when Atal Behari Vajpayee started dialogue with Pakistan,” PDP spokesperson Mehboob Beg said.
CPI(M) legislator MY Tarigami said the two countries should focus on the future as there was an immediate need for constructive engagement that could reduce the level of mistrust.
As the Congress demanded the PM’s clarification in Parliament, Sharma pointed out in the Rajya Sabha that the NSA-level talks were called off earlier. “We demand government takes Parliament into confidence and the Prime Minister shares as to what has been the understanding reached between him and his Pakistani counterpart,” he said.
JD(U) leader KC Tyagi wanted to know if the issue of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir would also be discussed during the forthcoming visit by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan.
Congress leader and cricket administrator Rajiv Shukla referred to the exchange of gifts between the two PMs and said if mangoes and saris had been exchanged and talks were also going on, “Why stop the cricket teams from playing each other?”
Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha questioned the government’s strategy, saying it should explain to the country why it was resuming the dialogue when the ruling party had maintained talks and terror could not go on together.
“BJP all along has been saying that terror and talks can’t go together... Terrorist attacks are going on throughout and India itself says that Pakistan is behind them. So what is the point then (to hold talks)? Government owes it to the people of this country to tell them why they are resuming the dialogue,” Sinha said.
The senior leader said there was an attack on a CRPF convoy on Monday itself and he was surprised with the resumption of NSA-level talks.