New Delhi: Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Sunday said that if India wants to change Pakistan’s behaviour towards it, it should examine and change some of its conduct towards the neighbouring country.
The former Finance Minister, speaking at a discussion on national security at ‘Beyond politics: Debating a New Security Manifesto’, also said that if both the countries continue to demonize each other, the situation will never improve.
“We have to make Pakistan change its behaviour, which means we must also change our behaviour towards Pakistan,” he said.
The Congress leader also said that successive Prime Ministers have said that we can change our friends but not neighbours.
“If Pakistan demonize India and in turn India demonizes Pakistan, and this is the narrative in both the countries, we can never be friends. We can never put an end to border disputes and infiltration.”
In an apparent attack on the Modi government, he said the ground reality was different from what was being portrayed.
“We have been mesmerized by the phase ‘strong leader’, ‘strong government’ and ‘muscular policy’ but the real test is on the ground.
“We saw more infiltration in 2018 than in the last 15 years. More successful infiltrators, more civilian and military casualties in 2018 than before. So how do you claim these policies are a success?”
He said that, in a sense, “we are forbidden to ask these questions”, adding that without asking questions, one can never replace a bad policy with a good policy.
“We must ask questions. more and more people must ask questions.”
The leader also said every problem doesn’t have a political solution, including the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as it will have an impact on national security.
He said he was in school when the two countries had the first war.
“Here I am 50 years later and we are still talking about war with Pakistan. So what has improved in the past 50 years? Are we going to live like this for next 50 years and the next 50 years?”
He said the two countries should not embrace each other every day, “but we should normalize the situation with Pakistan”.
He added that if we want to change Pakistan’s behaviour towards India, India will have to examine its behaviour vis-a-vis Pakistan and change some of them.
“I am not saying all that we have done is wrong or that all that the present government has done is wrong.
“We must find a way to normalize the India-Pakistan relationship.”
He also said there was no reason why one day an Indian Prime Minister and a Pakistani Prime Minister cannot walk into each other’s territory and shake hands. “I hope it happens one day. But we have to change our behaviour,” he emphasised.
He also said before talking about wars, we must realise that all our neighbouring countries, apart from China, were developing nations.
He said war was not an option and those who were making people believe that it was an option “are misleading” them.