Envoy injects 'dose of realism' in India-UK ties after Brexit
Core issues such as Britain’s policy on providing “haven” to anti-Indian elements and fugitives and on terrorism from Pakistan need to be addressed as London seeks a free trade agreement with New Delhi after Brexit, Indian high commissioner YK Sinha has said.
Injecting what he called a “dose of realism” amid oft-repeated platitudes about the India-UK relationship, Sinha said the future remains bright though core outstanding issues need to be addressed.
“There is undue focus on signing a free trade agreement with India. It is too much to expect soon after Brexit. India has few FTAs, we need to look beyond FTAs. You have been providing a haven for fugitives and anti-India elements. These issues need to be addressed,” he said.
Speaking on Monday at the launch of the book Winning Partnership: India-UK relations beyond Brexit, edited by Manoj Ladwa, who was the election campaign director of Narendra Modi during the 2014 polls in India, Sinha did much plain talking on the bilateral relationship.
“There is much to be done. If you don’t recognise the problem of terrorism we face from our west, the epicentre of terrorism, there is not much that can be done. Allowing anti-India elements to flourish here in the name of democracy also will not do.”
Sinha added, “You were sceptical when India spoke about terrorism, until September 2001. If you continue to pull punches in the guise of political correctness or appeasing certain sections, we won’t go far.
"We feel the UK has become a haven for fugitives from justice. The way the UK permits anti-India activity on its soil, in Delhi people are quite perturbed about that. We are also a democratic society but we do not discuss issues that affect our friends and allies."
Sinha, a key interlocutor in the past on India’s Af-Pak policy, remarked that London’s policy of “setting a thief to catch a thief" in India’s trouble-torn neighbourhood would not work.
In an apparent reference to the Taliban, he said: "It is time to realise where the problem actually lies. It is not just us, other neighbours are also complaining. It is something that has to be recognised and not tip-toed around because if that continues, we will see that epicentre of terrorism thriving."
The book includes chapters from experts in different fields, including strategic affairs and business, such as Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Karan Bilimoria, Meghnad Desai, Anuj Chande, Gareth Price, Patricia Hewitt and Jitesh Gadhia.