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Issue No.: 575 | May 2015
 

Protocol Vs. Policy

Ashok Karnik
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Modi Government has consciously adopted a more muscular policy towards Pakistan....despite the presence of the separatists there, was a matter of diplomatic protocol...
POINT

Pakistan’s national day on March 23, 2015 became an occasion to define diplomatic protocol and distinguish it from Policy. The Modi Government has consciously adopted a more muscular policy towards Pakistan and even refused to continue negotiations with Pakistan till it acted against terrorism. There is always an understandable pendulum swing from hard line to reconciliatory line vis a vis Pakistan. UPA was blamed when it became more reconciliatory than harsh and the BJP lauded itself for being tough; the reality is that at some stage a dialogue becomes inevitable. The Modi Sarkar did that and opted to open a window for dialogue. This goes against BJP’s grain and its avowed anti-Pak stance. As the window opened, came the national day of Pakistan. Pak High Commission in New Delhi invited the Indian External Affairs Minister for the function and cheekily invited the separatist leaders from J&K. India which is opposed to the separatists being given place at the negotiating table were obviously in a dilemma and tried to find a middle path. Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister declined the invitation, but as a matter of protocol asked her junior Minister, Gen.(retd) V.K.Singh to represent India at the function. He attended reluctantly but that was enough to raise questions about BJP’s muscular approach to Pakistan.

COUNTER POINT

The Government tried to deflect criticism by claiming that attending the national day function, despite the presence of the separatists there, was a matter of diplomatic protocol and did not mean any change in policy. The obfuscation did not jell as Gen.V.K.Singh made his displeasure known by claiming that he had merely done his duty but he was disgusted with the task given to him. What could the Government have done? Refused to attend the function because the separatists were also invited? Would that have been a breach of protocol? Questions would be raised over the Government’s tough posturing and soft protocol. It is true that negotiations cannot be avoided but the route to the negotiating table has to be chalked out carefully as a false move can render the entire exercise fruitless. How to be tough with Pakistan while showing willingness to negotiate with it is the problem? Should the Modi Government put the negotiations in cold storage till Pakistan shows some remorse? India has to harden itself to accept that there could be no solution to the Indo-Pak problem in the near future. It is naïve to believe that India could persuade Pakistan to change track. Only dire circumstances down the decades would make that possible – perhaps!
Every issue has at least two sides. A wise person examines all sides before coming to a conclusion.
This is an attempt to present various sides of an issue so that a considered opinion can be formed.

Readers are invited to email their points of view on serious issues of the day to 
ashokkarnik2001@yahoo.co.in
Readers who do not have the facility of a computer can also post (mail) their points of view on serious issues of the day to "Point Counter Point”, c/o Freedom First, 3rd floor, Army & Navy Building,
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