S Jaishankar to pave way for PM’s EU trip
Coming against the backdrop of the European Parliament’s decision to defer the resolution condemning the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, to its March plenary session, external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s February 17 meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels will decide whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the March 13 European Union summit.
According to South Block officials, while India has noted the postponement of voting to the plenary session between March 30 and April 2, it understands that the move is temporary, with the anti-CAA resolution going to vote after PM Modi attends the EU summit. Indian diplomats are wary that EU High Representative Joseph Borrell will allow the anti-CAA resolution to be put up for voting once PM Modi’s visit is done.
However, South Block is satisfied that it was able to brush aside a push from British Members of the European Parliament wanting the resolution to be passed before they leave the European body on account of Brexit on January 31. A total of 73 British MEPs have to bid adieu to the largely Left of Centre EU Parliament with Brexit kicking in. At the forefront of the effort to pass the resolution was Mohammed Shaffaq, who hails from Pakistan.
“It is clear that EAM Jaishankar will seek assurances from his EU counterparts at Brussels against the CAA resolution being put to vote. It is only after this that the decision on PM Modi’s trip to EU will be finalised. As of now, PM Modi is attending the EU summit on March 13 after which he goes to Dhaka,” said a senior foreign ministry official who asked not to be named.
When in Brussels, Jaishankar will also prepare counter to Pakistan’s plan to raise the issues of the nullification of article 370 and CAA at the UN Human Rights Council session from February 24 to March 20. With neither all-weather friend China nor constant supporters Turkey and Malaysia in the 47-member body, Pakistan will largely depend on support from the 59-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
It is understood that Pakistan’s charge at UNHRC will be led by the country’s foreign minister Makdoom Shah Mehmood, Qureshi with the Indian counter coming from MEA secretary (West) Vikas Swarup. The Indian strategy to counter Pakistan and its supporters will be decided in the coming week.