Peace top priority in foreign policy: PM
Manmohan, however, said the means India adopts to pursue objectives of peace will change from time to time.india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 17:21 IST
Facing a stiff attack from the Left over Iran policy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday asserted that the Government's "tactics and strategy" may "change with time" in tune with the "changing reality of an ever-changing world".
Days ahead of the discussion in Parliament on India's stance on Iran's nuclear issue, he emphasised, however, that the UPA government's "values" in terms of its policies are "universal and will remain true for all time" and dismissed the perception that it had given up the ideals of non-alignment.
"We have worked hard to create the space needed to have the freedom to make policy choices in an increasingly inter-dependent world," Singh said after laying foundation stone for the External Affairs Ministry's building complex named after Jawaharlal Nehru.
"The means we adopt to pursue our enduring objectives of peace, national security and development will, of course, change from time to time. They will have to be evolved in response to the changing reality of an ever-changing world," he underlined.
"While the instruments of our policy and the tactics and strategy we adopt may change with time, the values in which they are embedded are universal and will remain true for all time," he said.
Referring to Nehru's "idea" of non-alignment, he said it was based on the "principle that we were not aligned with anyone against anyone but only with our values and national interest."
Stressing that non-alignment was neither an "empty slogan nor a pretext to shirk the responsibility to define our own world view based on our national interest," the Prime Minister said, "indeed, non-alignment was an expression of our enlightened national interest and continues to be so even today."
The comments could be seen as a message to the critics over the UPA Government's policy on Iran, particularly its recent vote against it at the IAEA meeting, after which the Government was accused of giving up the ideals of non-alignment.
"Every democratically-elected government has to be mindful of the well-being of its people," Singh said, adding the "foreign policy we pursue abroad must reflect our national priorities and concerns. There cannot be a disconnect between domestic capabilities, national aspirations and external policies."
He underlined that India's foreign policy must help create an international environment conducive to the country's "social and economic development".
"Our diplomats are called upon to steer the course of India's foreign relations in an extremely complex global scenario," Singh said.
Noting that "turbulence" characterises much of the Islamic world now, he said it "merits deeper analysis".
He observed that in the recent years, a "much sharper consonance" between the country's foreign and domestic policies has been witnessed.