This refers to the report, “Invitation to SAARC heads sparks row, but BJP holds firm” (May 23). Mr. Modi’s move is indeed a very apt initiative to spread friendship among our neighbours. However, regional politicking should be avoided.
The BJP has the mandate to test the waters as it is free of political baggage. Mr. Modi’s reaching out to Pakistan, Bangladesh and the other SAARC countries is a bold venture. Of course, anti-India factions will try every trick in the trade to scuttle peace. However, it is in Pakistan’s interests to make it to the function. All of us yearn for peace. Mr. Modi could have gone a step further and invited leaders of other proximate countries — Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and those in the Gulf.
The stand of the parties in Tamil Nadu is really distressing. Nothing constructive can be accomplished by opposing a visit by the Sri Lankan President. Only a sensible and diplomatic dialogue with Sri Lanka can help solve the problems of Lankan Tamils. A peaceful neighbourhood is vital for the all-round development of a nation.
M. Guru Muhilan,
The invitation has deep meaning. It has immense value as an ice-breaking exercise after certain intemperate outpourings by the Prime Minister-designate during election campaigning that might have led to misgivings in the minds of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Two, it sends out the message that the region is keen to solve its problems without “outside” (read American) mediation/interference. Three, it underlines the imperative need for separating economic cooperation from the bilateral problems that may exist among the SAARC countries. Four, India’s initiative shows that it wants to resume its status as the leader of the region by re-emphasising its size, economic development and democratic credentials, particularly vis-à-vis China. Five, this also shows the proactive rather than reactive role that it had been playing of late.
Kusum Lata Chadda,
For India to emerge as a global economic and political power, it has to engage with its neighbours. Manmohan Singh’s decision to skip the CHOGM meet in Colombo last year because of political pressure from Tamil Nadu did cause damage to India.
With the BJP in an absolute majority, it ought to be more firm and regional issues should not be allowed to cloud the larger picture. While Mr. Rajapaksa is welcome to come, Mr. Modi should not let down the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. They have genuine grievances and their plight can be addressed through greater India-Sri Lanka economic cooperation among other steps.
Roshan U. Alam,
It is said that China and Pakistan are working hard now to frame policies to contain Mr. Modi. While the invitation to SAARC leaders is welcome, concrete long-term policy-framing is more advisable than mere short-term window-dressing.
SAARC as an entity shares a common list of problems such as malnutrition, poverty and terrorism. What is needed to tackle them is vision on the part of the leadership. If Mr. Modi’s small step can pave the way to greater regional cooperation, it will be welcome. In today’s world, cooperation is the key word.
Shivajyoti Das Baruah,
The invitation need not be taken as an endorsement of the policies of the Sri Lankan government vis-à-vis Sri Lankan Tamils. Having all the leaders in India will create the proper ambience to resolve contentious issues.
The Prime Minister-designate, Narendra Modi, has proved that the foreign policy of India is going to be the “road less taken” without taking into consideration the not so worthy demands of regional parties, aimed merely at votes and not our national interest. Mr. Modi must stand firm and have his way.
Ms. Jayalalithaa should use this as a golden opportunity to meet President Rajapaksa and make it clear to him that the genuine grievances of the Tamils must be solved. Later, an economic package and job-creation programme involving India (with Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka can be thought of.
Mr. Modi has silenced his critics with one single step. He has wisely sent out the message to all our neighbours that pending tough negotiations on fishermen's issues, border disputes, cross-border infiltration, illegal migration and fostering of terror, India as a dominant and powerful nation respects the sovereignty of other SAARC nations and looks forward to cordial relationships and inclusiveness.
Simultaneously, he has put the regional parties in their place by highlighting the new political dharma that is non-coalitional in nature.
B.M. Jaffar Ali,
To solve the problem of the Sri Lankan Tamils, it is essential that all channels of communication with the government of Sri Lanka be kept open with a level of cordiality. Nothing will be gained by adopting a hostile attitude. The ground reality is that Sri Lankan Tamils have to live in Sri Lanka, abiding by Sri Lanka's authority. India should try and make life better for them by steps including those involving trade.