August 13, 2020
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'We Have Tried'

The Minister of State for External Affairs defends the Governement policy and charges the Congress with 'flip-flop'.

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'We Have Tried'

A lot has been talked about in the House about the failure of the Agra Summit and about how Agra Summit was supposed to produce miraculous results and that we should hang our heads in shame because we have failed to deliver anything.

But is it a failure because we did not conduct our Summit in the glare of the media cameras? Is it a failure because we chose not to talk in the press and decided that it would be in the best interest of the success of the Summit to confine our discussion to the closed rooms? Is it our failure because there has been no joint declaration? But where does it say that a Summit is successful only if you have a joint declaration at the end?

The process of dialogue between India and Pakistan has begun. We hope that it is an irreversible process. So much has been talked here about the lack of an agenda.

The Government of India put forward an eight-point agenda for Pakistan to consider. They involved people-to-people contacts, they involved security measures and they involved economic aspects of our relationship.

Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar just now said that in the absence of an agenda, we should have called the dialogue off. Why did the Opposition then not stand up and say, please call off these talks. Do not go without an agenda.

We talked about preparation and how the Government of India went into this Summit completely unprepared. But the Prime Minister was prepared. His preparation went to the extent of studying what and how the previous Summits had been carried out and the previous tactics.

Who was not involved in the process of preparation? All Opposition parties were included in the dialogue. Intellectuals have been spoken to. Media were involved in the process of preparation. What else would you have us do?

The Prime Minister has rightly said that when we are talking about Jammu and Kashmir, we are talking about the part of Kashmir that had been occupied by Pakistan since 1947.

So much has been said about the unprofessional manner in which this Summit was conducted by the Government of India. The Shimla Agreement is one of the corner stones of relationship between India and Pakistan. But after 1971, after the signing of the Shimla Agreement, what steps did the Congress take to reclaim the area of Kashmir that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan?

If you have secret solutions, do you not think that the country has the right to know? We have been in the Government only for three years. Almost for fifty years, we had the Government of one party. Yet, you tell us that you are successful and we are failures.

The process of dialogue has begun and, I repeat, it must continue. A joint statement would have been possible if we had agreed on everything. The one crucial issue that is of utmost importance to us is the cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan wanted to call it a freedom struggle or a Jehad. But in order to have this so-called successful summit, would you have liked us to have given an inch of land? Would you have been satisfied, if in the interest of having a Joint Statement, we would let Pakistan call it some sort of a freedom struggle? Would you have liked us to give away our position?

The fact of the matter is that there is no indigenous freedom struggle in Jammu and Kashmir. A Jehad, in Islam, is fought when Islam is threatened. Is there anybody in this House who would tell me that Islam is more threatened here than it is in Pakistan? We, in India, are proud of our secular heritage. Where then does the question of a Jehad arise?

We went to the Summit as well prepared as it was possible. Do I have to remind the Congress about their flip-flop policy on Kashmir? The Government of India has consistently tried to create a condition conducive for dialogue further in Kashmir. But it was our initiative. They cannot accuse us of not trying.

We had to try to ceasefire; we had to give those militants a chance to come to the table and talk. Would they have us say that we do not want to talk to them and rather we would shoot them? We have tried; where we have succeeded, we have succeeded, where we have failed we have admitted.

Agra did not live up to the hype that the newspapers and the media generated, but no Summit would have lived up to the expectations that the media generated for Agra. But Agra created some very convincing and useful results. It created an atmosphere for dialogue, which will continue.

Before I end, I would like to make one final point. So much has been said about Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, about what she was doing in Agra. If the Minister of Information and Broadcasting was there, she was there with a purpose. She was there to ensure that the media did not have any problems.

We had always promised the people that in the Agra Summit we would not confine our dialogue to one point and that we would talk about the comprehensive dialogue that we had structured. Most Favoured Nation status, which Pakistan must accord to India, about the cross-border terrorism, about the avoidance of nuclear war, about the cultural relations and about the Iran-India gas pipeline. The fact that Pakistan did not like it is not the issue.

At the end, I would just like to reiterate that as far as we, in the National Conference, are concerned, it is our earnest hope that the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan continue at any level.

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