NEW DELHI:With Indo-Pak bilateral talks seemingly back on track and Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving a special invite to visit Islamabad from his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, the Congress expressed umbrage at what it called the PM and the BJP’s flip-flop.
On whether it was the Congress which came in the way of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh taking forward relations with Pakistan as pointed out by ex-sleuth A S Dulat,senior Congress leader Anand Sharma shot back, “No, it was the lack of support from the Opposition, particularly the BJP, coupled with the public perception’’ in India that ‘deterred’ him.
Manmohan never once visited Islamabad during his decade-long tenure as PM, despite his pre-Partition links with Pakistan. Vajpayee was the last Indian PM to have visited Lahore, Pakistan. Modi visit, if it takes place, would thus acquire its own significance.
Sharply reacting to Dulat’s remark that the Congress party refused to support Manmohan’s Pakistan policy which could have led to a visit to Pakistan, Sharma retorted, “Was he gathering intelligence on the Congress core committee after his retirement so that he could write a book?”
Putting forward the Congress view on Prime Minister’s Modi’s possible visit, Sharma claimed that though his party always backed dialogue, the BJP did the opposite. Asked if the Congress was not breaking the unwritten Omerta by disagreeing on foreign policy issues when the PM was abroad, “That was long ago broken by the BJP--the consensus, which made us support Vajpayee to the fullest.’’
He added that there was little option for his party as Prime Minister “Modi was going against time-tested traditionally held positions of India”, whether “by abstaining to vote” in favour “Palestine on a human interest violation resolution” or “by pushing Russia, a traditional ally, into taking a position where it can go ahead and strike defence deals with Pakistan” for the first time. “These are alarming developments which is impacting India’s image, standing and interests. There is no way, we can or would keep quiet on these changing mores.”