BJP says “right decision at right time”
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Pathankot terror attack has brought Modi government under severe pressure to re-think over its policy towards Pakistan and the forthcoming secretary-level talks between the two nations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the situation with top officials. External Affairs Sushma Swaraj also held consultations with experts on Pakistan affairs.
While the Government seemed to be in a mood to go ahead with the Secretary-level talks between the two countries, the BJP said “a right decision will be taken at the right time about future of the talks.”
The Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting of top officials including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. The details of the meetings were not known, but it is believed that Modi discussed the nature of India’s response and future of engagement with Pakistan.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]mong those who attended Sushma consultation were former bureaucrats who are known experts on Pakistan affairs. Sushma’s initiative came after the Modi government faced criticism for resuming the stalled dialogue process with Pakistan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s path-breaking visit to Lahore without taking the country into confidence.
Those who were present at the meeting are: Shiv Shankar Menon, former foreign secretary and national security adviser; Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary; Satinder Lambah, former envoy to Pakistan and former special envoy to the prime minister who conducted back channel talks with Pakistan; and three former envoys to Pakistan, T.C.A. Raghavan, Sharad Sabharwal and Satyabrata Pal.
Raghavan, who retired as India’s high commissioner to Pakistan on December 31, was present when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his surprise stopover in Lahore to greet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday.
Ministry officials refrained from giving details of Sunday’s meeting.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Pathankot attack has put the Modi government’s Pakistan policy on test. If the government cancels the forthcoming dialogue, it will be accused of being inconsistent in its approach towards the neighbor knowing too well that Pak army and its intelligence agency, the ISI, have always tried to step up offensive to derail the talks between the two countries.
On the other hand, if the Government went ahead with talks, it may face backlash from a section of people who feel that the Prime Minister was bending over backwards to humor Western powers to reach out to Pakistan despite no decline in terror activities..
Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore had signaled a thaw in India-Pakistan relations but Saturday’s Pathankot terror attack is seen as an attempt by forces across the border to derail the proposed foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad in the middle of this month.
Modi’s visit was the culmination of a series of diplomatic engagements between the two South Asian neighbors starting from November 30 last year when he had a seemingly impromptu meeting with Sharif at the Paris climate summit.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]F[/dropcap]ollowing this, on December 6, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Khan Janjua held a meeting in Bangkok which was also attended by Foreign Secretaries S. Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.
Two days later, Sushma Swaraj landed in Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia conference which engages “heart of Asia” countries for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
On December 9, she told the media there that Modi would visit Islamabad next year to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.
Then, after a courtesy call on Sharif, she held bilateral talks with his advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he two then came out with a joint statement in which Pakistan assured India that all steps were being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack trial. Meanwhile, commenting on the future of the talks with Pakistan, party’s secretary and media department head Shrikant Sharma said. “Right decision will be made at the right time.”