SalmanKhurshid-670
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid. — File Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: India has not been influenced by any foreign country, including the United States, in pursuing peace dialogue with Pakistan despite recent hiccups, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said on Saturday.

There have been reports from Washington, which wants to see no distracting surprises ahead of the second-term swearing in of President Barack Obama and his new team, that the United States would hate to see trouble brewing between India and Pakistan.

“We are not influenced by anybody, including the US,” Mr Khurshid told a private news channel. “Neither does America pressurise us nor does it have any expectations that it can do so.”

It is true though that be they “America, Russia, China, Canada, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Malaysia, we speak to everybody,” Mr Khurshid said. He was asked whether India was influenced by America in matters concerning Pakistan.

Asked if there was a need to review the dialogue process between the two countries, he said reviews periodically happened as these were inbuilt in the dialogue process.

Mr Khurshid said the decision to send back Pakistani players who were visiting for the Indian Hockey League, saw the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party speaking in one voice.

“It is the society’s decision, and the government accepts the decision of society, because it is a democratic government,” he said.

The foreign minister said India would not relent on its demand for the handing over of 20 terrorists, he did not identify, who are believed to have sought shelter in Pakistan. “There is no way that we will let go of the pressure. In all our talks with them, we maintain these demands as a part of our strategy.”

Separately, Mr Khurshid participated in a debate on India’s foreign policy, which was tempered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Intervening in the discourse on Pakistan in the wake of the flare-up on the

Line of Control, Congress scion Rahul Gandhi on Saturday made some plain speaking, saying taking tough steps and showing emotions were two different things.

Mr Gandhi, who spoke in the sub-group on ‘India and the World’ at the party’s brainstorming conclave in Jaipur, reportedly told the participants that while tough steps were taken in some situations, decisions cannot be guided by emotions, sources said.

“We should take tough steps but not be emotional in our response,” he said as the majority of participants sought unspecified tough action against Pakistan.

Mr Khurshid advocated “balance” in dealing with “such provocative” situations.

He pointed out that India conducted its diplomacy in such a way that it maintained friendly relationships with countries, which were sworn enemies between themselves.

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