On Indo-Pak Joint Statement: Congress in a Bind, PM is Confident

Why Congress is Nervous Over Indo-Pak Joint Statement? – Support Dr. Manmohan Singh

The raging controversy over the Indo-Pak joint statement issued at the end of the meeting between our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Pak PM Yousuf Reza Gilani on the sidelines of the NAM Summit at Sharmel Sheikh, Egypt, earlier this month, has left everyone nervous in the Congress party. Everything was fine except a reference to Balochistan in the Joint Statement that has misfired.

The Prime Minister has clarified unequivocally that India was not involved in the internal strife in Balochistan. The Govt. was also quick to deny a report appearing in the Pakistani Newspaper the Dawn that Pakistan had handed over a dossier on Balochistan to India. While the foreign secretary is getting much of the flak, the PM himself has publically admitted that he and PM Giyani had seen the joint statement before it was issued.

BJP has been trying to corner the PM on the issue. It appears the Congress leadership is in a bind conceding in private that they have lost to BJP on this issue. But the fact remains that our PM has not sacrificed India’s stand on terror. It was made clear to Pakistan that it would not resume talks unless concrete actions were taken against the terror outfits including the dismantling of the terror network and perpetrators of 11/26 attack.

Such strong worded statements which PM had said in person to the Pak’s President Zardari on the sideline of the conference in Russia, could only say that India was not soft on terror or lowered its guard on the issue of terror. What is needed today is both Congress and the opposition parties should support every effort made by our Prime Minister to deal sternly with Pakistan without compromising India’s stand on the issue. By belittling the achievement of the PM, we are playing into the hands of the waiting Pakistani leaders.

Congress party has swung into action to support the PM on the issue. Already Sonia Gandhi has sounded to back the PM and the Congress leadership has evolved a strategy to counter BJP’s efforts to corner the Prime Minister.

PM Dr. Singh has already made it very clear that Congress and the Govt. had no differences in perception on the Indo-Pak joint statement issued after he met the Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-Al-Sheikh in Egypt earlier in July. He further clarified that it was a media creation on the reference to Balochistan and he would address the parliament on July 29, as he has all the relevant answers. PM appeared more confident than the Congress party itself.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has already extended the support to the PM, is likely to endorse the government stand at next week’s Parliamentary party meeting. The Congress leadership which has discussed the issue threat bare would fully back the PM in the parliament against the onslaught by the BJP. The PM would therefore assure the Parliament that there is no question of Govt. going soft on terror. But on the question of reference to Balochistan in the Joint statement, PM would clarify that India’s stand has been well explained in this regard denying India’s involvement in the internal strife of the region.

All in all, a very interesting tussle is in the offing next week between the Congress party and the BJP over the issue of Joint statement when the parliament meets. It is all likely that Congress would gain upper hand when PM clarifies his stand in the matter. Till then, let us not make much noise over it. Jai Hind.

A.M. Jamsheed Basha

A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist, political commentator, who writes on matters of importance, political, social and self-improvement.