June 14, 2021
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'It Has Left The Country Very Confused'

Why did we rush into fixing the date? Why first an invitation and then a preparation? Was there pressure from other quarters? Was it to divert attention from the disastrous results in five State elections or was it Tehelka?

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'It Has Left The Country Very Confused'

The Agra Summit has left the country very confused. The hon. Prime Minister, the Government and the hon. Minister of External Affairs are not able to resolve this dilemma as to whether this Summit was a success or whether it was a failure.

The Government has received all round support from all Opposition parties, especially, the Congress Party. We do hope that the Government will provide us with some answers to numerous questions that are agitating our minds.

The Government has launched many initiatives but each time we have regressed instead of going forward. Twice, the hon. Home Minister, with great fanfare launched what he called proactive initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir and the result was an increase in militancy.

Government launches a dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir by releasing the Hurriyat Leaders. One year later, Shri K.C. Pant, discovers that Hurriyat do not represent the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

When hon. Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee took the bus to Lahore, we warned, "Take care before you leave or you may seriously damage the future". We were not against the dialogue with Pakistan. We fully support it. The peace process must go on at many levels.

In Lahore, we seemed to rush totally unprepared and we know that the consequences were. We were told that the things had arrived at a turning point in history. But the PM’s bus took a sharp downward turn and crashed down the slopes of Kargil. It was our Armed Forces who kept our honour intact.

One turning point led to another. But even as the Government rented and raided about cross-border terrorism, it sent our esteemed hon. Foreign Minister to escort terrorists to their freedom in Kandhar. What an unprecedented spectacle that was.

The proactive approach in Jammu and Kashmir which has been made proactive not once but twice was suddenly jettison. The Government took an about turn to announce a unilateral cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir and then promptly went into a deep slumber treating the cease-fire almost as an end in itself of a means to an end.

The cease-fire was suddenly called off. The pro-active action was resumed again. The end of the cease-fire almost coincided with the invitation to General Musharraf. We are now willing to talk to the military dictator who is still supporting terrorism. With this track record, we now approach Agra.

I can speak for everyone that we are extremely disappointed that Agra summit was a failure. We wished you success. We were with you in spirit. But where we are disappointed with Agra as a failure, we are certainly not surprised that it was a failure.

The Prime Minister, did not seem to be prepared for the journey that had chose to embark on. The hon. Minister of External Affairs tell us that they did tell the Pakistanis that they want to send the delegation to discuss and the Pakistanis were reluctant. Why did we rush into fixing the date? Why first an invitation and then a preparation?

Broad drafts are agreed upon before leaders of two nations even shake hands before the camera. The desire for dialogue with Pakistan was right but your implementation was amateurish. What was the urgency to go into the summit without an agenda?

Was there pressure from other quarters? Was it to deflect from the dismal failure of the cease-fire? Was it to divert attention from the disastrous results in five State elections or was it Tehelka?

It is shocking that after one day of the Prime Minister’s deliberations, we hear Gen. Musharraf telling us that militants from across the border are not terrorists, but freedom fighters.

General Musharraf utilises the media instrument to a great effect. But what was the Indian position? What did the hon. Prime Minister and hon. Foreign Minister want from the Summit? It is difficult to know it.

I am not casting aspersions on the motivation of this Government. I have great respect for Shrimati Sushma Swaraj’s oratory eloquence but why was she allowed to speak when it is an established practice that only the External Affairs Minister or the Foreign Secretary or an authorised official are there to state positions?

This was the deal-breaker for the General. So, we would like to know the truth. We do not want to play politics in this. But explanations and answers are certainly required.

General Musharraf was clearly sending signals in all his pronouncements that someone in the Cabinet was sabotaging the Declaration. In his recent Press conference in Islamabad, he indicated that the Summit has not failed because of them, because they were in agreement.

Shri Vajpayee himself in his statement says that we did achieve a degree of understanding. It would mean that the centrality of the Jammu and Kashmir issue had been agreed to and it would mean that our core issue of cross-border terrorism had been relegated.

In fact, he is trying to say that they both had agreed – somebody else had not. Simla was the bedrock of bilateralism and Lahore was an extension. Both Simla and Lahore mentioned Jammu and Kashmir as just one of the issues. Gen. Musharraf’s main grouse was that he wanted Kashmir as the core issue.

Were they close to agreeing to elevate Kashmir as the prime issue with no reference to cross-border terrorism? Would this allow for a future Pakistan rejection of agreements arrived at Simla and Lahore? Let us know the areas of agreement and the areas of disagreement. I am fully prepared to accept hon. Prime Minister’s word. Take the nation into confidence and build a consensus.

As far as the Summit is concerned, we lost before the summit during the summit and after the Summit. Agra has pushed us back and not forward. Killings are taking place as a direct result due to the hamhanded handling of this Government.

I agree that great care should be taken before going to Pakistan. Prime Minister should not go to Pakistan without defining the structured agenda and without being fully prepared. I urge him to build consensus on the approach that he wishes to adopt, a consensus within and outside the Government.

He must articulate our view points with boldness and candour. We should put-forth our views on Jammu & Kashmir with conviction. It is an integral part of India and there cannot be a compromise on this. This Pakistan's abetment of cross border terrorism must stop.

Most important is the nuclear issue. He must raise this as one of the most vital issues because two nuclear powers have a very heavy responsibility. Nuclear reduction measures must be put into place and they can be treated independently whether Government’s talks in the other matters succeed or fail. They should have a different track for this.

I would urge him to put in place a machinery which can meet from time to time, exchange views, exchange talk about safety measures and create a greater comprehension, at least, on this particular issue.

The Congress Party will always support any genuine initiative this Governments wants to take for peace in Pakistan. There must be no repetition of Agra because the cost of failure is too high and can imperil many precious lives. Congress is prepared to support the Government’s in a well thought-out and strategised peace effort but such naïve and amateurish efforts cannot earn them the respect or support from the country.

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