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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Congress slams Modi govt’s foreign policy
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Congress slams Modi govt’s foreign policy

The party says Modi govt's foreign policy on Pakistan, China, Africa and West Asia is 'confused'

A file photo of Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal. Photo: Raj K Raj/HTPremium
A file photo of Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal. Photo: Raj K Raj/HT

New Delhi: The Congress, the largest opposition party in Parliament, on Monday slammed the Narendra Modi government’s foreign policy on Pakistan, China, Africa and West Asia, describing it as “confused."

“Diplomacy is not a sound-and-light show. It is hard-nosed strategic planning. This government lacks both experience and understanding....Ceasefire violations are on the rise, 800 such violations taking place along the border," said Kapil Sibal, former telecom minister and Congress spokesman.

He was referring to a spate of violations of the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan, seen as a major confidence-building measure between the two countries. The criticism comes ahead of the three-week long monsoon session of Parliament starting on Tuesday.

“In July, 2015 alone, there were 12 ceasefire violations including the one late last night in Poonch district by the Pakistan Army," Sibal said, recalling that before being elected Prime Minister last year, Modi had called for an end to the firing along the border for peace talks to start.

Sibal’s comments come against the backdrop of Modi meeting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Ufa on 10 July and proposing talks between the national security advisors as well as the chiefs of the border guards and senior military personnel to ensure an end to firing along the border.

“This government’s confusing signals have not only confused Pakistan but also confused our people," Sibal said at a Congress party briefing in New Delhi.

On China, Modi’s policy was “even more confusing," said Sibal.

“Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean stares us in the face. China has signed agreements for use of Gwadar port in Pakistan; Chittagong in Bangladesh; Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sittwe in Myanmar. What is Modi’s response to it—silence," Sibal said.

“China intrudes our borders, Pakistan kills our soldiers but Modi does not act. Is it not shameful that right after the Chinese vice foreign minister told the Indian Ambassador that the Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in February undermined China’s territorial sovereignty, right and interests that the Prime Minister went to China on a bilateral visit?" he said, referring to Mod’s visit to India’s northern neighbour in April. China claims almost all of Arunachal Pradesh as part of it border dispute with India.

On ties with Africa, Sibal charged that Modi had paid no attention to the vast continent.

“Modi is neglecting Africa, so crucial for India. Africa represents a huge market for Indian investors. China’s trade with Africa stood at $ 200 billion while the Indian figure is $ 70 billion (2013 figures)."

On the Gulf region too, Sibal said Modi had neglected the region completely.

“Modi should know that there is Indian diaspora factor in West Asia as well. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are home to a large Indian diaspora. We must develop our strategic influence in West Asia as they are natural friends because of our affinity with them. The seven-million strong Indian diaspora sends back over $70 billion each year and (the region) accounts for trade worth $300 billion. This region is the main source of India’s energy requirement and, therefore, needs our engagement," he said.

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Published: 20 Jul 2015, 07:59 PM IST
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