Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday called for a pro-active foreign policy, saying that public perception and common mass mood have come to influence the foreign policy.

Gone are the days when foreign policy was framed in the South Block in isolation. Nowadays we observe direct impact of the people’s opinion on foreign policy formulation, he said. Delivering the inaugural lecture at a three-day international conference on foreign policy ‘People and Peace-democratisation of foreign policy in parliamentary democracy: Canada, India and beyond’ at Jammu University here, Dr. Abdullah, who is also the Pro-Chancellor of the university, said that democratisation of Indian foreign policy was gaining ground with the growth and development.

He identified three important ingredients of strong democratic institutions, spread of education and growth of media as major aspects for democratisation of India’s foreign policy.He said that these days people were pro-active in reacting and expressing their views on the international issues bearing direct and indirect impact on the country.

Our democratic institutions, intelligentsia and media actively and openly discuss issues such as nuclear deal, Copenhagen conference, environment policy etc. and thus influencing the policy. The pros and cons of the foreign pacts and agreements are being extensively deliberated upon in various forums, conference and media. This influences foreign policy framing and helps in democratising foreign policy.

The threadbare debates in the Parliament on foreign pacts and issues and the candid views of Members all the more influence the democratisation of foreign policy, he maintained and said it was not surprising that foreign issues were becoming a part of regular mainstream politics in the country.

The Chief Minister said the people in Jammu and Kashmir were all the more alive to the development of foreign policy, especially vis-a-vis Pakistan and China as it has a direct impact on the peace and development contours of the State.

Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University Varun Sahni said there were many important attributes of India which have a bearing on foreign policy and the country’s role in the world affairs.

He identified these as India being a large country, an emerging power, a regional power, an Asian power, a nuclear weapon state, a country with disputed borders, an arms buyer, a target of terrorism, a developing economy, a globalising economy, a technology-driven economy, an energy-deficient economy, a liberal democracy, a multi-cultural society, an ancient civilisation, a divided and a violent society, a diaspora community and a concern for the ‘common.’

The conference was organised by the Centre of New Literatures, Culture and Communication and the Department of Political Science of the University of Jammu in collaboration with the Canadian High Commission.

Academicians, scholars across the country as well as from Canada, Australia, America and South Africa are participating in the conference.

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