Opposition ticks off PM Modi for Ufa rendezvous

Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh welcomed the move to revive stalled talks between India and Pakistan

News Desk July 13, 2015
PM Nawaz Sharif shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the SCO summit in Ufa, Russia. PHOTO: INP

India’s main opposition party Congress has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction in diplomacy with Pakistan and questioned the justification of his meeting with Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city of Ufa.

“It is very clear that the Pakistani establishment does not want the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes to be punished. With this background, where was the justification to have a meeting at the level of two prime ministers?” Congress spokesperson and former commerce minister Anand Sharma was quoted as saying by Indian media on Monday. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is answerable to the country.”

Sharma was reacting to the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s remarks that they need ‘more evidence and information’ from New Delhi on the Mumbai attacks case and that no dialogue with India would take place without including the Kashmir issue.

Read: Nawaz-Modi meet-up: India reluctant to revive composite dialogue

Another Congress spokesperson, RPN Singh said it was ‘extremely surprising’ that this statement was made by Pakistan, and alleged that it was “very evident that they are not bringing those responsible for the 26/11 [attacks] to justice”.

Targeting Modi, Singh said it was “unfortunate that the prime minister has been engaging in ‘knee-jerk reactions’ as far as diplomacy with Pakistan is concerned.

“It is because of this lopsided diplomacy he has followed with Pakistan, we have over one thousand ceasefire violations,” he said, adding, “I appeal to the Prime Minister [Modi] to take corrective steps so that people like [Zakiur Rehman] Lakhvi are arrested and tried and outfits of Pakistan abetting terror in India are banned.”

Criticism from the Congress spokesperson aside, former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh welcomed the move to revive stalled talks between India and Pakistan but hoped that Islamabad ‘means business’.

Read: Bring back terrorists on your plane, minister tells Modi

“That the two countries are talking to each other is a good thing,” he said on the sidelines of an Iftar hosted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi. Singh hoped that Pakistan ‘means business’ in holding talks with India. “Well, I hope Pakistan means business,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.

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