Pranab Mukherjee commends Modi’s foreign policy initiatives but slams his over-publicisation of surgical strike
Modi’s foreign policy initiatives: Pranab Mukherjee in his new book titled ‘The Presidential Years: 2012-2017’, which also happens to be the fourth volume of his autobiography, shares his perspective over Narendra Modi’s administration. The former President of India commended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his handling of the country’s foreign policy affairs without any formal expertise in the same.
Mukherjee wrote, “One could expect the unexpected from Modi,” and added, “because he had come with no ideological foreign policy baggage.” He also praised Modi for inviting SAARC leaders to his swearing in and hosting Chinese President Xi Jingping twice.
In his memoir, Mukherjee wrote, “When Narendra Modi took over as PM, he had absolutely no experience in foreign affairs. As the CM of Gujarat, he had visited some countries, but those visits were limited to engaging for the good of his state, and had little to do with domestic or global foreign policies. Foreign policy was, therefore, a truly uncharted territory for him. But he did what no PM had attempted before: invite the heads of government/state of SAARC nations to his oath-taking ceremony in 2014—and this included Pakistan’s then PM, Nawaz Sharif. His out-of-thebox initiative took several foreign policy veterans by surprise.”
The senior Indian politician also suggested that India could benefit from engaging with Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister and by establishing an open communication channel with him as he did not ‘carry the old baggage of pre-partition politics’. Mukherjee called Imran Khan’s rise to power as “an interesting development”. He added, “Though we have to wait and watch how Imran evolves, particularly with respect to issues concerning India, I personally feel that India must engage with him. He is part of a new breed of politicians, is born in the post-Independence period and does not carry the old baggage of pre-partition politics that the Muslim League personified.”
Besides speaking highly of certain aspects of Modi’s foreign policy, Mukherjee slammed the BJP leader’s “over-publicise” the 2016 surgical strikes and called it needless. With respect to the surgical strike carried out by the Indian government after Uri attack, Mukherjee said that such strikes by Indian forces across the border have been “normal military operations in response to Pakistan’s continued aggression… (and) there is really no need to over-publicise them.” He added, “we gained nothing by over-talking on these operations.”
He also criticised PM Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore taken to attend then then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter birthday as “unnecessary and uncalled for, given the conditions that prevailed in India-Pakistan relations.”