The parliamentary committee on external affairs plans to submit a comprehensive report on Sino-Indian ties next year, and is currently looking at the “extremely topical” Dokalam issue, panel chairman Shashi Tharoor has said. Tharoor said the panel wanted to take a comprehensive look at the India-China ties by understanding their trade and political relations, cooperation in international bodies and the Chinese attitude on India’s membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), on terrorism and Pakistan among other aspects.
Right now the panel is looking at Dokalam because it is “extremely topical”, the former minister of state for external affairs told PTI. “Just as this year we submitted to Parliament a report on Indo-Pakistan relations, similarly for next summer we want to submit a report on Sino-Indian relations,” he said. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs held two meetings on the Dokalam situation last month.
At the first meeting where the panel’s members were briefed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had raised questions on media reports of Chinese action in the Dokalam area, a member present at the meeting had said on the condition of anonymity. The second meeting was briefed by Jaishankar, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra.
The 73-day face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Dokalam started on June 16 after the Indian side stopped the construction of a road by the Chinese Army. According to the external affairs ministry, the two forces “disengaged” on August 28. On the Dokalam standoff, Tharoor said if the Chinese had “stopped doing something” that had triggered the reaction from India, then “clearly we had achieved something”.
“If on the other hand, the stoppage is purely temporary and two weeks later they have started again, which is what we want to find out (during panel meetings), then there is some doubt as to whether the original portrayal of the incident as an Indian victory was accurate or not,” the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram said. Tharoor said for the preparation of the report on Indo-Pak ties, submitted in August this year, the panel had five or six hearings.
“Some with the foreign secretary alone, some with the foreign and defence secretaries and the military people, some with the commerce ministry, some with individual experts…We got everyone’s view and we put it into a comprehensive report. So our approach on China will be the same,” he said. On the government’s foreign policy, Tharoor said there was no doubt that relations with Pakistan were at a “pretty bad low” and with China they were “not much better”.
“In both the cases we have come down a long way from the kind of bonhomie that characterised these relationships at different phases in the last decade, including during Mr Modi’s initial years of prime ministership,” he said. “In fact, with Pakistan, one can truly accuse the government of inconsistency because there have been so many ups and downs,” he added.