Union Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid.
Union Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid speaks to The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla on India’s response to recent killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistan and India’s foreign policy, during Teekhi Baat on IBN7.
You look worried. Is it due to the Chintan Shivir or due to Pakistan?
Well, it’s because of Teekhi Baat. When you invite to the show, one has to be wary of the hot spice.
But considering what Pakistan has done and the reactions it has evoked from across India, you must be worried.
It is worrying and we have raised the issue.
You spoke with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ms. Khar...
We have spoken to Pakistan. We raised the issue of murdering two Indian soldiers and beheading one of them. We also said that no matter what, there is no need of any intermediary.
You are clear that no third-party intervention is needed.
We have maintained this stance for years. And today we have reached a stage where people say that our bilateral relations can be normal. So, there must be dialogues.
You said that till now the dialogue had a peculiar tone, tenor and style. Would you review that?
The prevailing condition has impacted the dialogue. If the condition is normal, then the dialogue will be good.
Your party spokesperson wants to snap cultural and business ties with them.
This is what some people in the party and public think. It has no connection with the decisions. People exchange ideas and the government gets a sense of it. But, it is the government’s job to decide.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has demanded 10 heads of Pak soldiers. Was it an appropriate statement?
We understand the pain of the family of murdered soldiers. Every party understands that. Earlier too, when defence personnel sacrificed their lives, we recognised them in whatever way we could. It is not someone else’s decision to support the bereaved families.
After this incident, Pakistani hockey players were sent back. They felt insulted. Why did you invite them in the first place?
When there is an incident, the reaction will reflect the prevailing condition.
But is it right to invite players from Pakistan to play here, earn money?
Even our people go there. It is the society’s decision, and the government accepts that.
For some time, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives have been snubbing us. Do we have weaknesses in our policies?
In the recent years, Bangladesh and Myanmar have cooperated with us in combating terrorism. Such cooperation was not there for decades. I recently went to Bhutan. The talks were from heart to heart. But, the world is changing. We must adjust our relations with the whole world accordingly.
You had said that policies will be decided under Prime Minister’s leadership. But I now see you reading statements from papers. It seems that someone else writes them.
It is not so.
The Pakistan policy is written somewhere else and read at somewhere else.
No. We are part of the same place where policy is formulated. Why shouldn’t the policy be formulated with the one who is leading us?
Do you speak about Pakistan in a soft manner under international pressure?
We have to do our duty, and carry out our responsibilities.
What is your duty?
It is to keep the nation safe; to maintain peace around us and in the whole world. No allegation of disturbing peace should ever be levelled against us.
It seems you are influenced by America or somebody else regarding Pakistan.
We are not influenced by anyone.
There is no American pressure on you?
America is not pressurising us. But we talk to all the nations, be it Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the neighbouring nations, Canada.
But now there is no war.
We are not in war time.
When you are attacked, you would go to war...
If there is an attack, we will protect ourselves. Now we want an answer to the pain that has been inflicted upon us.
But if such incidents are frequent, then at least you would not keep quiet...
Why are you talking about the future? We will talk about what has happened today and what we are doing today.
And you are satisfied?
We are fulfilling our responsibilities. The society has to get satisfied, the public has to get satisfied.