NEW DELHI – Having taken risky initiatives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India will have to be “alert and conscious” all the time but wondered with whom in Pakistan red lines can be drawn for conducting talks – with the elected government or “other actors”.
He also said that India would have to drive home the advantage on the fact that the world is now convinced of its views on terrorism from across the border by continuing to put forth its views on this matter.
“The first thing is that with whom in Pakistan you will decide about ‘Laxman Rekha’ — with an elected government or with other actors. So India will have to be alert and conscious all the time. There should not be any laxity and negligence,” he told Times Now channel.
Modi was asked what is the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ for holding talks Pakistan because in 2014 it was said it will be only talks between the two countries and not with Hurriyat.
With relations to overtures to Pakistan like his Lahore surprise trip and frequent engagement with PM Nawaz Sharif, Modi said that it helped to give a message to the rest of the world that India was the “not that obstacle” in improving ties.
He said because of his consistent efforts like the visit to Lahore or inviting the Pakistan Prime Minister here that he no longer has to convince the world about India’s stand on terrorism.
“The world in one voice is praising India’s role. Pakistan is finding it difficult to answer. The world is watching. If we remain an obstacle then we will have to convince the world that we are not like this. Earlier the world would not buy India’s theory on terrorism and sometime it would even treat it as out law and order problem. Now the whole world is accepting what India says on terrorism. It is accepting the loss caused to India by terorrism, the loss caused to humanity by terrorism. I believe India will have to continue putting forth its view on this matter,” the prime minister said.
He separated the diplomatic engagement with the security response at the border or terror attacks.
“…those who have to work from the table, will work from the table and those who have to work at the border, will work at border with full strength. Each one will fulfil the responsibility entrusted to them. And our jawans are fulfilling their responsibilities. It’s true that pressure on terrorists has increased, their schemes are proving unsuccessful. The intent with which they move forward are foiled and they have to face major challenges. It is because of this disappointment that such incidents are taking place and our jawans are risking their lives and protecting the country. We are very proud of our Jawans,” he added.
Failed NSG bid
Refusing to take the path of direct confrontation with China over membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Modi said while there were a “whole lot of problems” pending with Beijing, continuous dialogue was the key to find “common meeting points”.
In the MEA’s press statement after the plenary meeting of NSG ended on June 24, India had clearly indicated that “one country” had blocked New Delhi by raising procedural objections at every step.
When asked if he could change China’s “mindset” on India’s membership application, Modi said that foreign policy is “not about changing mindsets”.
“Foreign policy is about finding the common meeting points. Where do our interests converge and how much? We have to sit and talk with every country. It’s our ongoing effort,” he said.
When the interviewer pointed out that China had been blocking India’s moves on NSG and listing of Masood Azhar despite Modi’s frequent engagement with Chinese leadership, PM noted first that “we have an ongoing dialogue with China and it should continue to happen”.
“In foreign policy it’s not necessary to have similar views to have a conversation. Even when the views are contradictory, talks are the only way forward and problems should be resolved through dialogue,” he said.
He further said that there India didn’t “have one problem with China, we have a lot of problems pending with China”.
“Slowly and steadily, an effort is on to address these issues through talks and make them less cumbersome. I can say that China has been cooperating with India to search for solutions. On some issues, it’s a question of principles for them. On some issues, it’s a question of principles for us. On some issues they differ with us and there are issues on which we differ with them. There are some basic differences”.
“The most important thing” is that India speaks “to China eye-to-eye and put forth India’s interests in the most unambiguous manner”.
The PM did not specifically give a time frame for India joining NSG, unlike Sushma Swaraj’s optimistic take of one year, but said that it was “an ongoing effort”.
“Look the first thing is that India has been continuously making these efforts, no matter which government was in office. Be it the membership of the UN Security Council or the SCO membership or MTCR membership or NSG membership. Every government has made an effort. It’s not that only this government is trying, it’s in continuity. But it’s during our tenure that we achieved SCO membership, we also got the MTCR membership. I have full faith that now we have begun a coordinated effort for the NSG membership too. The process has begun on a positive note. Everything has rules and will work accordingly and move forward,” Modi said in answer to a question whether he was disappointed with outcome of NSG’s plenary meeting in Seoul.