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Govt making 'fundamental departure' in Indo-Pak ties: Cong

Source: PTI
December 07, 2015 13:44 IST
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The Congress on Monday accused the ruling National Democratic Alliance of making a "fundamental departure" in New Delhi's position on Indo-Pak ties and of 'disrespecting' Parliament, as the government assured that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will make a statement on the issue later this week.

Raising the issue at the start of Rajya Sabha proceedings, Anand Sharma demanded that the prime minister should clarify on India's engagement with Pakistan and take Parliament and the Opposition into confidence about the direction and the roadmap that the government has in mind.

"I have given a notice under Rule 267 so that the prime minister and his government inform the House about the developments and the reasons which have made the government to make a fundamental departure from the position as was conveyed to this august House in the last session with regard to India's engagement with Pakistan," he said.

With the winter session starting 10 days ago and Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of Paris Climate Summit last week, Sharma said, "We did expect that he would take Parliament and leaders of opposition into confidence about the direction and the roadmap that the government has in mind".

Sharma said now Swaraj is going to Islamabad and added that "this is disrespect to Parliament, that Parliament is not informed as to what developments are taking place."

"The fact that the foreign secretaries have accompanied the National Security Advisors means that the scope and the agenda has been expanded.

"Therefore, we would demand government takes Parliament into confidence and the Prime Minister shares as to what has been the understanding reached between him and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the government now to move forward," he said.

Responding to him, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reaffirmed government's strong commitment to national interest and said, "on the issue raised by you, I assure you that on December 10 the external affairs minister will come to the House and provide all information on the issues that you have raised."

Sharma said he had no objection on the meeting between the NSAs of two countries meeting in Bangkok.

The Congress leader said the fact that foreign secretaries have accompanied the NSAs means that the scope and the agenda has been expanded and wanted government to explain before Parliament the developments.

The fact that "they were accompanied by he foreign secretaries ... that is why we have used the words 'fundamental departure'. Because government had said on July 26 in the Ufa statement between the two PMs that from Indian perspective, it was meant that an understanding was reached only to discuss the issue of terrorism which was contested by Pakistan and the NSA-level talks were called off," he said.

He said he did not expect the government to share all sensitive details but it should come out with details to take Parliament into confidence as per established practice.

"We understand the sensitivities. We are not objecting. We have always been in favour of constructive approach and a dialogue, but at the same time this has been the established practice that Parliament is to be taken into confidence when it is in session," he said.

Demanding a statement from the prime minister, Sharma said this was because the NSA only reports to the prime minister and not the external affairs minister.

Naqvi then again said, "On 10th, the external affairs minister will make a statement on this issue."

K C Tyagi (Janata Dal-United) raised the issue of a purported statement of Pakistan NSA saying the issue of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir will also be discussed during the talks.

"What do you mean by that...Is this a departure from the past? We want that the minister declares its position on Kashmir," he said, adding that he however, agrees with the minister on the statement made by him.

Rajiv Shukla (Congress) said when mangoes and sarees were being exchanged between the two prime ministers and talks were also going on, "why prevent the cricket teams from playing?"

Swaraj will travel to Islamabad on December 8 on a two-day visit during which she will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

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