M.J. Akbar questions IQ of Doklam critics

Panaji: Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar on Saturday questioned the IQ of those who criticised the Modi-led government’s handling of the 2017 Doklam crisis.

Describing the Doklam stand-off as an attempt to test India, he said the silent manner in which the Indian government handled the crisis was significant.

The Union minister’s remarks come a day after Congress President Rahul Gandhi, while speaking during an interaction in London, slammed Modi for the manner in which his government handled the Doklam stand-off, while accusing the Centre of lacking a coherent policy to tackle China and Pakistan.

“I wish that some of the people who seem to be talking… I seriously do not wish to use any harsh words because it may be inappropriate, but who clearly prove over and over again that they have no knowledge, no understanding, no IQ sense of what governance is all about,” Akbar said at a function at an educational institute in Mapusa town, 15 km from the state capital.

Akbar, however, did not name Rahul Gandhi in his speech.

While speaking at an event in London at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), Gandhi had said: “I don’t have the details of Doklam, so I can’t answer how I would’ve handled it differently. What I can tell you is that Doklam is not an unrelated episode, it’s not a one off, it is not a border issue, it is a strategic issue”.

Gandhi had also said: “So I would look at the process and I would tackle the process and I am pretty confident that Doklam wouldn’t have happened…because you could’ve stopped Doklam if you were carefully watching the process.”

Akbar maintained that criticism of Doklam stand-off betrayed the inability of the critics to understand India.

“I wish they would not discuss Doklam. I wish they would not betray their own inability to understand our country and its values by words and thoughts that have either been fed into their mouth or perhaps are indeed an expression of some innate frigidity,” Akbar said.

Calling the 2017 stand-off between the Indian and Chinese armed forces as “one of the most important, significant events in this history of our foreign policy”, Akbar said: “(With) Doklam we showed this is not the India of 1962. Perhaps we were being tested, I can’t say. I cannot offer reasons why it happened because we certainly did not begin incursion”.

“But certainly that message of steadfast courage, commitment to our national interest, a display of calm, courage by our defence forces, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, who had taken personal leadership of this issue and the most important, I think in many ways, was the fact that we went through the whole phase of Doklam in silence,” the journalist-turned-politician said.

Spelling out the fundamentals of India’s relationship with China under the Modi government, Akbar said that despite the history of the two countries, both India and China had decided to be “mature nations”.

“We have differences of course. Our largest differences are on the borders with China. Differences must not become disputes and disputes must not become confrontations,” he said, adding that even the “most difficult” problems can be resolved through diplomatic channels.