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Chanakya’s View: India’s contradictory Pakistan policy

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The official spokesman of the ministry of external affairs does not have an easy job, and I should know because I have done that job myself when I was in the Indian Foreign Service. He or she has to often try and convincingly explain foreign policy decisions that are ab initio inexplicable. On December 26, 2017, national security adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Lt. Gen. Nasser Khan Janjua (retd) met at an undisclosed destination in Bangkok, as part of, what was described as “operational level talks”.

Not surprisingly, Raveesh Kumar, the spokesman, was asked about this meeting, and how it had taken place when we have publicly said that “terror and talks cannot go together”. It was not an easy question to answer, and certainly, Mr Kumar was not the maker of the policy that had put him in this predicament. His response, however, took the diplomatic cake as far as words without meanings go: “We have said terror and talks cannot go together,” he pronounced, “but talks on terror can definitely go ahead.”

This statement must rank as a classic of self-contradictory assertion. It accepted that talks will not be resumed so long as terrorism from across the border ceases. But simultaneously, it asserted that talks can happen on the issue of terrorism. Since terrorism is the reason why we put talks with Pakistan on hold, what does a statement mean when it says that terrorism will be the reason why talks “can definitely go ahead”?

Since I am........

© Deccan Chronicle