Friday, Sep 30, 2022

'If They Were Pressure Tactics, They Certainly Didn't Work'

The official spokesperson on the change in travel advisories by US and UK and the home minister's claim of 3000 Al-Qaida in Pakistan.

Is Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage coming to India?
We have checked; no dates have been fixed and there is no official confirmation either.

Will he meet a new Foreign Minister?
I don’t have a crystal ball in front of me.

Are you holding your breath?
I am not; you can see I am breathing freely. (Laughs)

The US and UK have diluted their advisories; there were speculations that their advisories were affecting our economy. Any comment on that?
Well, first of all, it’s a matter that they have decided and they will have to implement. As far as the issue of advisory is concerned we have always stressed from the very beginning that we never saw any need for the issue of these advisories and that India is a perfectly safe place for foreigners, it always has been and it will continue to be not only for the people visiting the country but for people to do business in the country and people to stay here with their families. India has been a safe and secure place and from the point of view of the Government, from the point of view of the people, from point of view of the business community, the various institutions, the media, India is a very very friendly place. The facts speak for themselves here that India is a safe and secure place.

But were these advisories affecting our economy?
I wouldn’t like to enter into a deep assessment of this. I think it is not for me to give you that assessment. As far as these advisories were concerned our views on this were very clear from the very beginning that we did not see them as warranted in the first place. There has been really no disruption at any time to the lives of any foreigners living here regardless of the country to which they belong.

Was it a pressure tactic?
Well, if they were pressure tactics, they certainly didn’t work. If they were designed to exert pressure I don’t believe you have seen the effect of that.

But tensions have eased..
Tensions have eased because we understood from our interlocutors (the US and the UK) that Pakistan has made certain pledges to put a permanent end to terrorism and we had correspondingly taken some measures in response to that. From India’s side there have never been any indications that we were inclined to raise tensions or to provoke conflict in this region. The pressure if at all, it has to be exerted, has to be on Pakistan to deliver on the pledge it has made because it is only through such deliverance on that pledge, on the commitment, on the assurance that it has made that we will see tension being reduced in the region.

You said that the advisories were unwarranted…Prime Minister said that we were close to a war…
I said the advisories were not warranted. There is a difference between the two. Close to a war was after Kaluchak, after the terrorist attack, and the provocation from the other side. That was totally related to the response that we felt necessary to the unprovoked terrorism from Pakistan. It has nothing to do with us being bellicose or taking steps that in any way suggested that we were provoking war or conflict in our region. We had indicated our disappointment even at Almaty that these advisories shouldn’t been issued.

Would you welcome the revision of this advisory?
Well, I would say that foreigners are welcome to return and that we look forward to the families coming back and to their resuming the routine of their lives in India.

Home Minster has said that there are about 3000 Al-Qaida in Pakistan and that the infiltration has not stopped. Any comments?
The Home Minister has talked about infiltration, he said that still there is continuing incidence of infiltration and then he said that there are about 3000 Al-Qaida members from Afghanistan who could have come into Pakistan and could come into Kashmir. He mentioned that they could come. It’s not that he said that they are in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. He said that there are chances of Al-Qaida members coming into Kashmir and that we should be vigilant.