Transcript of the speech of Mr HK Dua, MP, in the Rajya Sabha during the debate on the President’s Address on June 10, 2014.
When North-West is troubled
By HK Dua
Shri H K Dua (Nominated): Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman, for giving me a chance to speak on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his Address. It is a wide-ranging Address, touching issues of important concerns on a very broad range before the country. But, I will like to focus only on issues concerning foreign policy which has been neglected in the debate throughout the day.
Nobody can differ with the broad content of the foreign policy approach that is to defend and to promote enlightened self-interest of the country. “Enlightened self-interest of the country” – the phrase came from Jawaharlal Nehru and it is still sustainable, and most parties in the House, as well as all sections of wider society will support this approach. Of particular interest is the emphasis this Government wants to lay on seeking better relations with all the neighbours – Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Bhutan. This is evident from the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister to Bhutan and of the Minister of External Affairs to Bangladesh. All sections of the House and people outside supported the invitation which was sent to the leaders of the South Asian countries to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Prime Minister. I have been an avid supporter of the moves made by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohah Singh for seeking peace with Pakistan. Unfortunately, these did not mature into durable peace with Pakistan. The people know all the factors. I don’t have the time to narrate what these factors are.
H K Dua. But I am a little worried about the situation which is developing in the North-West of India. Look at the reports which are coming from Karachi. For three days a serious attack has been continuing on the Karachi Airport. This is not an isolated incident. Pakistan has been in the grip of jihadi movements, fundamentalists and terrorists. Often there are similar incidents. Karachi became the centre of this kind of attack after what happened at Mehran, its key naval establishment. That it took three days for Pakistan to somewhat tackle the situation at Karachi is a matter of concern not only for Pakistan but it is a matter of concern for us also. Recently, there was an attack on Indian Consulate-General in Herat. An Indian aid worker has also been kidnapped. There is an attack on Mr Abdullah-Abdullah who is likely to take over as the President of Afghanistan. That is why I am referring to the situation developing in India’s North-West. In Pakistan, the government is divided between its civilian Government and its military establishment, and there are some sections of its military like the ISI which happen to be their own government: no one knows who will control the situation in Pakistan.
If there is a fire next door, i don’t think India can remain unaffected. If there is fire next door, despite our very good intentions for peace, and I have been a supporter of the peace moves, we cannot neglect the situation. Fundamentalists and jihadi elements have been objecting to every move which the civilian Pakistan Government has tried to make. In the past, our experience shows whenever there was a slight progress in the dialogue with Pakistan, there were attempts to scuttle it by staging terrorist attacks either on this side of the border or in their own country. The argument given is that Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism. Yes, it is. But we are the victim of terrorism which is exported to us.
The President’s Address says that there will be zero tolerance towards terrorism in India. The Pakistan Government is not able to say there will be zero tolerance towards terrorism in Pakistan. Let us look at the scenario. If Pakistan fails to tackle terrorism on its soil and if it fails to prevent terrorists from creating incidents in India, it can lead to a very ugly situation on the sub-continent. Also, this will have an impact on Afghanistan. The US troops are leaving Afghanistan by the end of the year. A large chunk of troops have already left., post-withdrawal, there can be a vacuum in Kabul, We have invested considerable political, strategic and economic capital in Afghanistan during the last ten years as a matter of policy. We have spent two billion dollars as economic development, and it has helped in stabilising the situation in the strife-torn nation.
Mr Deputy Chairman: Duajierat. An Indian aid worker has also been kidnapped. There is an attack on Mr Abdullah-abdulHH
- ·ouseand people outside supported the invitation which was sent to the Leaders of the South Asian countries to attend the swering-in cedrewmony of the new Prime inister. I have been a supporter ofthe moves made by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr anmohan Singh for seeking peace with Pakistan. Unfortunatedly, these did not mature into durable peace with Pakistan. The people know all the factors: don’t have touse ouse as well as all sections of the wider society wsi
, one minute. I want to take the sense of the House. Can we sit for another thirty minutes?
THE MINISTER OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS ( M VENKAIAH NAIDU): Sir, my request is this. We have to complete the discussion tomorrow by sharp 5 o’clock. (Interruptions). The Prime Minister has to give the reply. It has been decided in the Business Advisory Committee and our internal consultation that it will be over by that time. If the House wants to have discussion, you can continue for some more time so that other Members can also participate.
Mr Deputy Chairman: Anyway thirty minutes is agreed to. I have another request to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister. Your Party and the Opposition Party have given a number of names.
Mr Deputy Chairman (Contd): Please discuss and try to reduce the names. Please do that.
M. Vankaiah Naidu: We are trying to do that. Both the MoS and the Deputy Leader are holding discussions and I hope they will be able to work it out. We don’t want to do it arbitrarily.
Deputy Chairman: Okay. Please continue Mr Dua.
H K Dua: I will cooperate and be brief.
Sir, in the troubled situation in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, which is likely to see the withdrawal of American troops, this year, who will fill the vacuum? It is Pakistan-supported Taliban who would like to fill the vacuum. All accounts suggest that these are the plans. Already, secret talks are going on between Pakistan and Afghani Taliban. They have not given up the aim to come to power in Kabul and the attacks on Indian embassies earlier, and the recent attack in Herat and the kidnapping of an Indian—show that their intentions are not benign as far as India is concerned.
I would like the Prime Minister to take the House into confidence as to how we are going to meet the situation after the American troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan. The US is going to leave only 6,000 to 9,000 troops plus drones in Afghanistan. Now, drones can kill people, but they cannot control the situation on the ground. The 6,000 to 9,000 US troops or NATO troops which would be there cannot control the situation. We have entered into an agreement, a strategic partnership agreement, with the Karzai Government. We are definitely giving them some arms training, but we also don’t want to get involved deeper in the imbroglio that is there in Afghanistan. Whosoever has gone into Afghanistan has burnt his fingers. There has to be some clarity in the Government about the various policy issues involved. I would like the Prime Minister to make a statement when he speaks tomorrow here in this House to make it clear as to what is our policy on Afghanistan, what is our policy on Afghanistan after the US troops have pulled out. We cannot let the effort which we have made for ten years for economic and political stability in Afghanistan go waste. We cannot afford a situation in Afghanistan which is against Indian interest also.
In Pakistan, if the Government is not able to control the terrorists groups, the situation in the country can be worse. There is another danger — of failure by the authorities to control the extremists groups. They can divert the Taliban to Kashmir which can create another problem for us. So, I would like to suggest that the Prime Minister should make a statement on what will be our policy, how he is looking at it, how the government is looking at the developing situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
I have a feeling that there will be consensus in the House as well as outside in the country for whatever policy we choose to adopt in respect of Pakistan. Even a peace initiative that the Prime Minister takes would be supported by the people and Parliament but the situation which is developing in the neighbourhood does not seem to be very congenial. Actually it should be a warning for us.
Sir, there was talk of consensus by the Leader of the House which was responded positively by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad when he said that his party would provide constructive opposition. Consensus is certainly needed on foreign policy, security policy, both internal and international security, and on terrorism.
Consensus is also needed on the working of this Parliament. This consensus was sadly missing during the last 3-4 years and it cost the nation and Parliament a great deal in prestige among the people. Initiative for evolving consensus has to essentially come from the Prime Minister and his Government. I have a feeling based on the debate today that all sections of the House, including Mr K C Tyagi, Mr Ghuilam Nabi Azad, Mr D P Tripathi and others, have responded to the idea of a national consensus on vital issues. Mr Deputy Chairman, Consensus is very important for running the House, as well as the nation.
Deputy Chairman: The Chair will be very happy if there is a consensus.
H K Dua: Thank you very much for this, Sir,
I may just add that an effective security policy, as well as foreign policy, will also require social coherence in the country for which we should all work for. With this I conclude.
Thank you so much, Mr Deputy Chairman, for giving me a chance to speak at this late hour.
(Ends)ouse. Can we sit for another thirty minutes?