Border standoff: Oppn asks govt to explore “diplomacy” for de-escalation with China

NEW DELHI
3 Aug 2017

The Opposition today accused the government of having no stable foreign policy and asked it to spell out its roadmap to deal with China amid the border stand-off which it wanted to be resolved diplomatically. During a discussion on "India's foreign policy and engagement with strategic partners" in the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition parties said they are with the government in the face of "unusually aggressive" position adopted by China but wanted the country to be strengthened further militarily to ward off any threat. The Opposition parties also accused the government of spoiling relations with the neighbours and felt that India should not be isolated in the process of isolating Pakistan. "As we engage with our partner countries, please ensure that there is balance. We should ensure that we engage with all of them. But we should ensure that there is strategic balance," said Congress leader Anand Sharma while initiating the discussion. Sharma, former minister of state for external affairs, said there should be no dilution or deviation from the country's laid down foreign policy. Referring to the border stand-off with China, he said the neigbouring country is being "unusually aggressive" and the "doors of diplomacy seem to be closing". "When it comes to country's national interests, we stand as one and there is no division. It is clear...Diplomacy must be given a chance. We believe in making all possible diplomatic channels to de-escalate the situation on borders," he said. "De-escalation does not mean retreat. It is safeguarding India's interest," he said. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sharma said he had "not uttered a word" on what he has talked with Chinese President Xi Jingping during their meetings in Astana (Kazakhstan) and Hamburg (Germany). "It is his (PM's) duty to tell us. He cannot remain silent on matters of India's sensitive interests," he saidSharma also noted that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had visited China recently and wondered whether after that "a window has opened that this stand-off would be resolved."  He also said that India should avoid making boastful claims of isolating Pakistan.

The Congress leader said it was a matter of concern that China has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan. He said managing of the periphery comes first and that is of critical importance, saying the rest comes later. "Unless we manage our neighbours correctly, it would be difficult or rather impossible to play a major role globally," he said, adding, "What is your roadmap? There is no stability in your policy. It keeps changing. First you say we would talk and then stop talks."  Sharma said terrorism is a threat and there is increase in cross-border attacks but not a day passes when the life of an Army man is not lost in Jammu and Kashmir. "It is not a matter of statistics, but we have to stand up and protect our borders," he said. The Congress leader said India had succeeded in de- hyphenating India from Pakistan. "The real concern is that the hyphenation is back," he said. Sharma said it was a matter of concern to India that China and Turkey have offered to mediate between India and Pakistan. "We have concern because China's profile in Pakistan is increasing and Pakistan is getting emboldened of this support for China and that is our concern," he said. Talking about the surgical strikes, he said, "even a military victory must not be boasted upon.(PTI)