Speaking at a book launch event on Monday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar indirectly took a swipe at former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon by emphasising that India should never allow terrorism to be normalised. Menon on January 3 had criticised the country’s policy to increasingly hyphenate itself with Pakistan. Jaishankar asserted that no country in the world had suffered as much as India owing to terrorism.
He stressed that India needed to develop its own narrative and contextualise core strategic interests to make the country attractive to the world. Maintaining that territorial integrity was a “core” interest, the EAM observed that there could not be business as usual if there was a violation of the aforesaid core interest. He also observed that the previous accords with Pakistan such as Sharm El Sheikh and Havana lacked “strategic clarity”.
Menon was the Foreign Secretary when both these engagements with Pakistan took place. Balochistan featured for the first time in a joint statement with Pakistan at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in 2009, causing considerable embarrassment for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. On the other hand, the Havana pact referred to the announcement of a joint anti-terrorism mechanism by both countries in 2006, which failed to materialise.
On January 3, Shivshankar Menon talking at an event, criticised India’s move to enact the Citizenship Amendment Act and abrogate Article 370. He claimed that the country was facing trouble on the diplomatic front due to these decisions. Menon cited the case of Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel who had raised questions about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Menon stated, “There has been no meaningful international support for this series of actions, apart from a few committed members of the diaspora and a ragtag bunch of Euro MPs from the extreme right. The list of critical voices from abroad is really long. From President Macron to Chancellor Merkel to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to visitors like the King of Norway who’d normally be polite.” He added, “What we have achieved in the recent past, is to hyphenate our image with Pakistan in a fundamental way, as religiously driven and intolerant states. We have gifted our adversaries, platforms from which to attack us.”