Former External Affairs Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Yashwant Sinha, has slammed the Narendra Modi government for initiating National Security Adviser (NSA) level talks between India and Pakistan which is to be followed up by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan this week.
“My view is straightforward and simple. At the end of the Vajpayee era, we had come to the conclusion that talks and terror cannot go on. That was the basis of the January 6, 2004 joint declaration in Islamabad that talks would happen only if Pakistan stopped terror activities against India. Predicated on this, the talks happened,” he said. In the 10 years of UPA rule, despite the attacks on Mumbai in 2008, he said, the Central government “somehow felt compelled to talk to Pakistan.”
“At that time too, between 2004 and 2014, the BJP held the same view, that terror and talks should not go together,” Mr. Sinha said. “The Ufa statement earlier this year reflected this when our government said terror would be discussed between India and Pakistan.
“Then, talks at the NSA level were called off because Pakistan brought in the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. What has changed on the ground? Has any forward movement been made on bringing Hafiz Saeed to justice or getting Dawood Ibrahim extradited to India?” he asked.
Continuing attacks “Even this morning, a CRPF convoy was attacked in Jammu and Kashmir, and there have been frequent incidents where our people have lost their lives. So what has been the trigger for these talks?” he asked.
“We must learn from history that sometimes there is no virtue in following the path set by others. Secondly, and more importantly, many people in India believe that the alternative to not talking to Pakistan is war. That is simply not true. I personally know that there is a vast diplomatic space between not talking and war, and maybe, this government needs to explore that,” he said.