No substitute to engagement with Pakistan: Jaitley
Washington: Ahead of another round of
Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks, BJP leader Arun
Jaitley said today there was "no substitute" to engagement
with Pakistan, but added that the outcome will depend on the
circumstances that country finds itself in the near future.
Jaitley said successive government in India have
engaged with the dispensations in the neighbouring country and
the opposition party supports the policy.
"There is no substitute to engagement (with
Pakistan)," Jaitley said in his address to the prestigious
Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank.
Currently on a visit to Washington, Jaitley cited the
Lahore-Bus service initiated by the then Prime Minister, Atal
Bihari Vajpayee, and the unsuccessful Agra summit, to make the
point that the BJP supported engagement with Pakistan.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao is in Islamabad for
talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.
Successive Indian governments have tried to engage
Pakistan at various levels, he said.
However, he said the level of engagement, its content
and results, would depend on the circumstances of the time.
Outcome of these engagements, Jaitley said, would
depend on which way Pakistan moves from the circumstances in
which it is in right now -- wherein it has a weak civilian
government and the ISI and the Pakistani Army playing a
dominant role in the decision making process.
Referring to the drawdown of US troops from
Afghanistan, Jaitley said there is concern in India as to when
the US pulls out, whether it would leave behind some kind of
political stability and peace in the country that has been
through an over three-decade long civil war.
Jaitley said over the last decade ties between India
and the US have evolved as a "strategic partnership" and carry
bipartisan support in both the countries.
He said there was convergence of assessment of the
situation in Afghanistan, and now also in Pakistan, between
the two countries. However, he noted that there will continue
to be areas of differences between the two nations.
"We will not always have similar views on all aspect,
but India US relationship itself has become a global reality,"
the Opposition Leader in Rajya Sabha said.
Responding to questions, Jaitley said the US and its
companies should not have any apprehension over the Nuclear
Liability Bill and should come and invest in India.
"It is a fairly safe regime to invest in," Jaitley
said, observing that the bill was eventually passed by the
Parliament through a much wider consensus.
Rajya Sabha member Chandan Mitra said there is genuine
apprehension in India about nuclear power plants based on the
experiences of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, cost of electricity
obtained through nuclear energy, recent opposition to land
acquisitions and the question of desirability of nuclear power
plants in the wake of the disastrous tsunami in Japan this