In citing Vajpayee’s initiatives in defence of the Indo-Pak joint statement, the government was trying to cover up a “monumental lapse” in its foreign policy, the BJP said on Friday.
Two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh evoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy in defence of the joint statement, the BJP stepped in to counter the claim that Singh was taking forward the former PM’s initiatives on Pakistan.
“The UPA has never praised the NDA government except when it is in trouble,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said.
The 2004 joint statement, issued by Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf, had said no talks until terrorism abates, Jaitley said. The Pakistani leader had even assured that he would not allow his country’s soil to be used against India.
Vajpayee’s policy was composite dialogue only if no terrorism, but Singh was for talks irrespective of terrorism. “Vajpayee’s foreign policy is being used as a shield to cover a monumental lapse.”
A foreign policy has multiple options, but the Prime Minister had reduced them to a “war or dialogue” choice, thus putting India into a position of weakness, the BJP leader said.
“A calibrated dialogue is also an option.”
“Muddaii ban ke gaye, Mudda alaeha ban ke loutey (India went to Sharm el-Sheikh as complainant but returned guilty),” Jaitley said in the House.
Jaitley asked the Congress to clarify its position on the matter, saying it was silent on the issue of Balochistan.
In the Lok Sabha, too, the joint statement once again came under Opposition fire.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna rose in defence, saying the government had made it clear to Pakistani leadership that India expected action against terrorism. “We are all united against terrorism. Period.” The Opposition was, however, not satisfied with Krishna’s explanation.