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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

At Ramnath Goenka Lecture, Jaishankar rules out talks with Pakistan in near future

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done more than others to try and find a way forward, including his 2015 visit to Lahore, which was “extraordinarily risky” both politically and in terms of his security.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2019 22:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave several instances of India underestimating Pakistan and continuing with the same approach of trying to start a bilateral dialogue. He was speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Lecture on Thursday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave several instances of India underestimating Pakistan and continuing with the same approach of trying to start a bilateral dialogue. He was speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Lecture on Thursday.(ANI PHOTO.)
         

Virtually ruling out the possibility of any engagement with Pakistan in the near future, India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday described the decision to link talks to cessation of terrorism among the fundamental changes to entrenched views in the country’s foreign policy.

Jaishankar made the remarks while delivering the Ramnath Goenka Lecture on the theme “Beyond the Delhi dogma: Indian foreign policy in a changing world”. Addressing an audience that included envoys, diplomats and foreign policy experts, he gave a broad overview of successes and failures in foreign policy over the past seven decades and highlighted the changes made by the NDA government.

Listing several instances of India underestimating Pakistan and continuing with the same approach of trying to start a bilateral dialogue, he said: “Thus, in 1972 at Shimla, India chose to bet on an optimistic outlook on Pakistan. At the end of the day, it resulted in both a revanchist Pakistan and a continuing problem in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“That it has taken us so long to link talks with Pakistan to cessation of terrorism speaks for itself,” he added.

Talk about dogma and entrenched views are “naturally strongest on the more perennial challenges” such as Pakistan, and changes in thinking had triggered a debate over the past few years, he said. “That fact is that we had allowed the narrative to focus mainly on a dialogue, when the real issue was stopping cross-border terrorism,” he pointed out.

“In the last five years, however, a different normal has developed and global conversations on cross-border terrorism have become more serious. Just look at the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) as proof of that assertion,” Jaishankar said.

During a subsequent conversation with strategic expert C Raja Mohan, Jaishankar said Pakistan was “an issue where we have no choice but to do what we’re doing”. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done more than others to try and find a way forward, including his 2015 visit to Lahore, which was “extraordinarily risky” both politically and in terms of his security.

“Who doesn’t want a good relationship but at the end of the day...the reality (is) that this neighbour has built an industry of terror to put pressure on us. There’s no point living in denial because when you live in denial, they will only increase it,” he said.

“I think holding their feet to the fire on this issue is very important because without that you’re not going to get change,” he added.

In a reference to the changes in Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the international reaction, Jaishankar said if one was averse to risks, one could end up doing nothing. He also said it was important to differentiate between the reaction of governments and the chatter on social media.

In his speech, he said: “As we move decisively to combat separatism in Jammu and Kashmir, there is some talk today of its internationalisation and hyphenation of our ties with Pakistan. This is thinking from the past, reflecting neither the strength of India, the mood of the nation nor the determination of the government.”

Uninformed comments abroad on India’s internal affairs were “hardly internationalisation”, and the “reputational and real differences between India and Pakistan puts paid to any hyphenation effort,” he added.