India should continue engaging with Pakistan, says P Chidambaram

Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has said that India should continue engaging with neighbouring Pakistan despite the current tension between the two South Asian countries.
File pic - Former union minister and senior...
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi December 03, 2016 8:27 IST

Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has said that India should continue engaging with neighbouring Pakistan despite the current tension between the two South Asian countries. 

“You have to continue to engage with Pakistan. Eventually you have to live with your neighbours and you have to learn to live with them,” Chidambaram said here on Friday.

He also said that the government should not have gone public with the army's surgical strike across the LoC as it has put the Pakistan government too in the public and has forced it to go on the offensive.

"Going public limits your options," he stated, adding that "you must heed public opinion, but you must also lead public opinion".

Chidambaram said India ‘gained enormously’ by not retaliating against Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that claimed more than 160 lives. 

"India gained enormously in esteem in the world for not retaliating after the attacks," Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram said that after he was made Home Minister on December 1, 2008, he realised that retaliation was "not an option, it was not feasible".

Chidambaram said that after the ceasefire agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in 2004 the number of people killed along the LoC had gone down substantially since then till 2012-2013.

Asked what happened after 2013, Chidambaram said there seemed to be no unified command in the Home Ministry now. 

He recalled that during the UPA government's time, such a command used to meet daily at the Home Ministry to take stock of the security situation in the country.

The former home minister was of the view that the current government's policy has swung from "over enthusiasm" to the other extreme.

India has refused to sit for a peace dialogue with Pakistan following terror attacks emanating from Islamabad and bilateral relations have gone from a high level of optimism at the end of last year to absolute pessimism now.

During External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Islamabad last year, the two countries agreed to start a 10-point Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries scheduled to work out the modalities for the process.

Expectations further rose when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled stop at Lahore on his way from Kabul to New Delhi on December 25, 2015, on the occasion of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif's birthday.

But the whole process got derailed when Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) carried out a cross-border terror attack at the Pathankot Air Force base on January 2 this year that left seven Indian security personnel dead.

New Delhi gave proof of JeM's involvement in the attack and demanded that Islamabad bring the perpetrators to justice.

Relations further deteriorated when Indian security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani in July and Pakistan declared him a "martyr". Scores of people died in the resultant violence that sparked off in the Kashmir valley.

In September, the JeM again carried out a cross-border terror attack on an army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 19 Indian soldiers.

In what was seen as a retaliatory move, the same month the Indian Army carried out surgical attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir inflicting heavy casualties on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Again on Tuesday, terrorists from across the border attacked an army camp at Nagrota in Jammu and Kahmir in which seven Indian soldiers were killed.



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