ISLAMABAD: Veteran Indian politicians and former diplomats have strongly criticised Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s deviation from the Saarc agenda and his attempt to turn the regional forum into the ‘South Asian Association for Regional Confrontation’, which gave Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan a diplomatic victory.
Sanity seems to be setting in, since Rajnath is being questioned at home for his tirade against Pakistan at the regional moot and his diplomatic sense. Prominent former Indian parliamentarian Mani Shankar Aiyar, in a recent article published by NDTV on its website titled ‘How Rajnath Singh’s visit has given Pakistan the clear upper hand’, bashed the Indian home minister for his diplomatic disappointment.
Shankar credited Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for skillfully using the Saarc platform to present to regional countries and the world Pakistan’s point of view on Kashmir’s freedom movement, its war against terrorism and dialogue with India in response to Rajnath’s engineered rhetoric.
“Kudos to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on having transformed Saarc into the South Asian Association for Regional Confrontation,” the Indian ex-MP said.
“He had no constructive aims. He only wanted to show naïve and impressionable Indian saffronites that he had the chutzpah to tick off the Pakistanis on their own soil. That may have won him some brownie points at home, but no one else was impressed,” he added.
Shankar pointed out how Nisar presented Pakistan’s point of view at the Saarc forum saying: “What is really unfortunate for us is what Nisar had said in response … that violence against freedom fighters in a disputed territory under Indian occupation is state-sponsored.”
He asked “did India really want its Saarc partners to hear such language directed at India?” Declaring it a diplomatic success for Pakistan, Shankar mentioned Nisar’s strategic depth on the subject, asking “do we [India] really want to hear the Pakistani minister telling Saarc and the whole world that Pakistan is ready to engage in any dialogue process based on mutual respect and dignity with no strings attached.”
Shankar added that Rajnath’s foible in Pakistan also prompted the US to side with Pakistan as US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner clearly maintained: “We advocate closer cooperation between India and Pakistan to deal with the terrorist threat in both countries.”
“If this isn’t one in the eye for India, I would like to know what is,” he asked. Declaring Rajnath’s trip to Pakistan unfruitful, Shankar said the US has even barely backed India despite Rajnath’s effort to pitch India’s point of view through a Saarc summit.