Sushma Swaraj to brief Parliament, announce likely visit to Pakistan



External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is likely to brief Parliament over the Bangkok meeting of the NSAs of India and Pakistan and answer criticism from the opposition over the secrecy of the Union government surrounding the discussions.

Later Swaraj will announce her intention to visit Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia conference, concerning Afghanistan, on 8 December. There, she is also likely to meet her counterpart Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz.

The Congress, on 7 December, in Parliament, demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the National Security Advisor (NSA) talks on 6 December and their outcome.

The meeting between Indian and Pakistan NSAs in Bangkok, which has brought about a turnaround in bilateral ties, has sparked a political row of sorts in both Houses of Parliament.

Congress MP Anand Sharma said, “The government should have taken Parliament into confidence about the whole matter,” said, saying the decision to hold NSA talks amounted to violating the sanctity and disrespecting Parliament.

“It’s a grand betrayal. It’s a betrayal of everything that the government has apparently and publicly adopted,” said Congress leader Manish Tewari. Criticising the Narendra Modi government, the Congress has said the Centre needs to get its foreign policy in place before holding talks with Pakistan.

The government has neither spelt out the specifics nor the framework for the engagement with Pakistan or taken Parliament or political parties into confidence, said Surjewala.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena speaking to ANI condemned the India-Pakistan NSA-level level in Bangkok. He said on 7 December that having talks with Pakistan was pointless as their goal was to destroy India. No amount of talks would solve the strained bilateral ties between the two nations.

“Going to Bangkok and talking about the problems between India and Pakistan serves as a gentle reminder that all is not well between the two. The talks have not brought about a change, ceasefire violations are increasing by the day and infiltrations take place with impunity in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Raut.

“Shiv Sena has always been against any ties with Pakistan. There is no gainsaying that talks have served as a pedestal for peace in the region. Terrorism cannot exist in India without Pakistan’s support,” he added.


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