Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday said in order to bring a change in Pakistan’s behaviour, India should also change its stance towards the country.
“Whatever we do, we have to make Pakistan change its behaviour. That means we must also change our behaviour towards Pakistan. These attitudinal changes will happen over a period of time. But we must make an effort,” Chidambaram said during a discussion titled — “Beyond Politics: Debating a new Security Manifesto”, organised by think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in the national capital.
The former finance minister added that in order to fight external elements and “biggest external challenges” in terms of security and other aspects, “we need to find a way which can normalise India-Pakistan relations”.
The leader’s comments, however, did not go down too well with BJP, as the party claimed that Congress is speaking the language of the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and acting as a public relations arm of the Pakistan government.
“Congress party is blaming the Indian government for taking multi-pronged punitive steps against Pakistan including some trade-related initiatives. It seems that the Congress party is not happy that the military and non-military punitive steps initiated by the Indian government have silenced Pakistan and forced it to mend ways,” said BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.
Rao added that the statements of several Congress leaders sound like music to Pakistan, which has lost all its international credibility and is cornered.
“It is unfortunate and condemnable that there is a race among the Congress and other opposition leaders to make pro-Pakistan statements at a time when the whole country is rallying behind our government and security forces in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and air strikes in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan,” Rao alleged.
Also present at Chidambaram’s discussion was Retd Lt General DS Hooda, who headed the Indian Army’s Northern Command when the country carried out surgical strikes along the Pakistan border in 2016. Hooda said that “one surgical strike or one air strike cannot change the behaviour of Pakistan.”
Gen Hooda also presented a report to the crowd, titled “India’s National Security Strategy”, which was created by his team for Congress.
“We may have tried everything and failed, but we have to try and try and try until we have a break. There is no reason why one day an Indian prime minister and a Pakistan prime minister cannot walk into each other’s territory and shake hands,” he said. Hooda added that there needs to be radical thinking from both sides.
Chidambaram said that war is not an option at all. “Barring China, countries in the region are not even middle-income countries. The narrative of war is misleading. The war is not at all an option. We cannot afford to do things beyond the economic capacity,” the former finance minister said.
Mentioning the case of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the Naga insurgency, Chidambaram said that internal security is related to national security.
(With PTI inputs)