PM should have visited Tawang in 2008: Kanwal Sibal



New Delhi: Former Foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal on Friday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have visited Tawang during his tour of Arunachal Pradesh in 2008 as this would have sent a clear signal to China that the northeastern state is part of India.

"I agree that the Prime Minister should have gone to Tawang, especially after the Chinese made certain statements about Arunachal Pradesh....In order to send a signal to China that from this point the position is clear from the political level that Tawang is ours," Sibal said.

"But Prime Minister did visit Arunachal Pradesh but he didn't go to Tawang. The Defence Minister did but then he made sure that the press was not allowed to give too much publicity," he added.

Sibal questioned why India had been shy of asserting its rights.

"To my mind, this is an error. This is a serious error. I don't know why we are afraid to assert our rights and maybe unnecessarily create doubts in the minds of people about how confident we are about our claims on Arunachal Pradesh," Sibal said.

The former Foreign Secretary was interacting with the audience after having delivered the Y B Chavan Memorial Lecture on India’s foreign policy at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

Earlier in the lecture, Sibal said "the challenge for India's foreign policy in the years ahead is that it should be courted by all and would succumb to no one. Even if India cannot lead, it must not be led."

India needs to "successfully play on all geo-political chess boards and optimise what it can extract from others for its own development," he said.

However, he cautioned that by choosing strategic self-reliance, India would have to cope with challenges largely on its own.

PTI