NEW DELHI, Sept 16: A wide gap between the perceptions of India’s home ministry and its foreign ministry about ties with Pakistan has left the country’s diplomats confounded during a meeting to improve the country's image abroad, which was addressed among others by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, news reports have said.
According to the Times of India, National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon briefed Indian diplomats on his take about the deep divide. Mr Menon was quoted by the newspaper as saying that while terrorism from Pakistan was a never-ending affair, India needed to engage with different quarters in Pakistan, even as New Delhi enhanced its own security proactively.
“The NSA’s assessment of Pakistan matched the home ministry’s briefing to Indian diplomats. But these were at variance with the ministry of external affairs take on India's ties with Pakistan,” The Times said.
Earlier in the three-day meeting, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna gave a fairly positive spin to the Pakistan relationship, describing it as a “democracy”.
Giving an account of his recent visit to Islamabad for talks with his counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, the minister’s briefing to the diplomats spoke of a new atmosphere in Pakistan and his confidence that the relationship was on the upswing. Pakistan, he said, wanted to take steps forward.
On the question if the powerful ISI and Pakistani Army were on the same page as the civilian government there, according to the Times version of the three-day meeting, Mr Krishna said he believed if the civilians were moving forward with India it would have the “blessings” of the military.
But these were very different from Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's assessment. In his speech to the diplomats, Mr Shinde spoke of the different ways in which Pakistan continued to foment terrorism inside India, the Times said.
These included infiltration, a growing fake Indian currency network, sleeper cells of terror groups, luring Indians to terror training camps to carry out terror attacks.
“Diplomats listening to the top levels of policymaking in the government would be forgiven for believing that the establishment was speaking in different voices,” the report said. “But though there is almost no one willing to bet that Pakistan had given up terrorism against India, there is an understanding that India needed to engage with some of the main players in Pakistan.”