On the day of the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab, so close on the heels of the Centre’s recent friendly overtures towards Pakistan, the RSS underlined the need for having “cordial relations” with Pakistan and also supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lahore.
The RSS followed the line it had taken after the coordination meeting with the BJP in September when it had advised the Narendra Modi-led government to normalise ties with Islamabad as it was once “a part of our (India’s) body” with shared historical and cultural links.
Addressing a press meet during Vishwa Sangha Shibir in Indore Saturday, RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale stressed the need of establishing the Indian philosophy of ‘sahjivika’ (mutual coexistence) with Pakistan despite the continuing attacks. “This world is a kutumb. (Mutual coexistence) is necessary, necessary for all (countries). They will have to learn it,” he said.
About questions being raised on why PM Modi had a meal at Nawaz Sharif’s home during his recent Lahore visit, he added: “Karna bhi chahiye. We don’t oppose it. Kyon nahi karna chahiye? (Why shouldn’t he have had lunch?)” He contended that “their proposition of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” was realised when Modi had a “meal with Sharif”.
“It is our duty to be cordial with people. That’s the dharma of Bharat,” Hosabale added about Modi’s stopover at Lahore.
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The senior RSS leader added that “it is the task of the Indian government to decide the nature of diplomatic relations. We want cordial relations”.
If the September advice had come barely a fortnight after the BJP government had called off talks with Pakistan, Saturday’s advocacy was hours after the terrorist attack at Pathankot. If September’s statements indicated a dramatic shift in the RSS’ earlier hardline stance towards Pakistan, the latest comments confirmed the Sangh’s softened diplomatic approach for India’s western neighbour.
Significantly, in September, it was Hosabale who had invoked the metaphor of estranged brothers of Kauravas and Pandavas, and had urged the government to normalise relations with Pakistan.
“I said in September that Kauravas and Pandavas were two brothers in a family. But they could also be enemies. But to establish dharma, all means are to be adopted. Atalji went to Lahore in a bus and also fought the Kargil War,” he said.