‘Incoherent Pakistan policy, Nepal mismanagement cloud Modi’s foreign policy’ (Two Years of Modi government)

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) As the Narendra Modi government completes two years, it’s been a mixed bag as far as foreign policy is concerned, with the handling of relations with close neighbours Pakistan and Nepal sticking out like a sore thumb, despite making advancement in engaging with the rest of the world.

Modi, who has visited 40 countries since he took power in May 26, 2014, is slated to visit the US, Qatar and Afghanistan in early June, keeping up the tempo of foreign sojourns.

But the “lack of clarity” on its Pakistan policy and the “mismanagement” of relations with Nepal has raised eyebrows, especially as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been aggressively advocating neighbourhood outreach. The fate of the resumed bilateral dialogue remains clouded after the Pathankot attack, despite Modi’s December 25 stop-over visit to Lahore.

With regard to China too, though high level bilateral visits are continuing, India seems to have gained no advantage, with Beijing not showing willingness to resolve the boundary question. China is also continuing to back close friend Pakistan but stymieing india’s attempts to ban Jaish-e-Mohamed terrorist Masood Azhar in the UN and also blocking India’s move to get NSG membership.

Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor feels Modi’s foreign policy record “is at best mixed”.

“Though Modi has travelled extensively and brought a lot of energy in the personal conduct of foreign policy, the results are yet to be seen,” Tharoor told IANS.

“A number of promised investments announced are yet to materialize, and on a number of key areas there has been rather negative developments,” he said.

Tharoor said the government’s Pakistan policy has been “rather incoherent, showing ups and downs, and inconsistencies that have certainly led to a considerable amount of confusion to what our policy is, not least among his own followers in the BJP”.

Tharoor said that Nepal has been a “a major setback and embarrassment for India”.

“It seems a clear example of a government which is a centralised authority in the PMO but the PMO has taken its eye off the wall and the MEA advice was therefore not acted upon on time, and the result is a mismanagement of Nepal relations,” Tharoor added.

Former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh feels while “it has been a very brilliant and dynamic foreign policy as regards diplomacy is concerned, but not so successful so far as strategy is concerned, to reach the goals”.

He feels Modi has “invested a lot of energy in foreign policy” and travelled to many countries, including many where prime ministers had not visited for a long period, and also helped in consolidating the strategic partnership with the US, the government has not fared so well with regard to China and Pakistan.

The former foreign secretary says Modi took a bold step in visiting Lahore, “but after Pathankot there is no clarity in our policy towards Pakistan; It is not clear whether the government favours continuation of dialogue or has it suspended it.”

He said in relations with China, it was being expected that the Chinese would bring in large investments to India, “but that has not happened, and there are no indications the Chinese want to settle the border issue; they continue with claims on Indian territory and troops violate the LAC,” he said, adding that Beijing’s military-nuclear and military cooperation with Pakistan is on the rise.

“Neither in the case of China or Pakistan has the government shown that it has the kind of strategic thinking that enables us to deal with it,” he added.

(ATTN EDITORS: This is the fourth in a series of stories on two years of the Narendra Modi government. Editor, IANS)

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at ranjana.n@ians.in)

–IANS

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