Jaswant for review of no-first-use Nuke-policy

New Delhi: In a significant statement, former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh on Tuesday advocated revision of the country`s no-first-use doctrine in the nuclear field formulated by his own NDA government citing changes in the global scenario.

Initiating a debate in the Lok Sabha on the Demand for Grants for the Ministry of External Affairs, the BJP leader also attacked the government`s foreign policy, particularly in relation to Pakistan, China, other neighbours as also the West Asia and cautioned against making any compromises with national interest.

He referred to the new classified documents, revealed by the website Wikileaks, about the US view on India`s approach vis-a-vis Pakistan and wondered whether the UPA government`s foreign policy was being framed in Washington.

Delving in the nuclear issue, Singh said while India has only 50-60 warheads, Pakistan has 100-110 warheads whose location even the US was not aware of.

The former minister also highlighted the recent global events like increased assistance being extended by China to Pakistan in the nuclear field.

Noting that the security concerns are multi-dimensional and policies of 20th century will not work, he pressed for a revision of the nuclear policy "with a sense of urgency", particularly of the no-first use doctrine formulated by the NDA government.

"…(Nuclear) policy of NDA is greatly in need of revision …Please hold broader consultations," he suggested to the UPA government, adding "Time will not wait for us."

The government should also take into confidence the Opposition while revising India`s nuclear policy, he said.

As regards policy towards Pakistan, Singh asked the government "not to bank on the US" to resolve issues with the neighbour.

"We will find answers left to ourselves. You will never find a solution through US," he said, while noting that India has better knowledge about Pakistan as he himself as well as party colleague L K Advani are from that country.

While talking about the Wikileaks, the BJP leader said he regretted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then former National Security Advisor (M K Narayanan) had different views on dealing with Pakistan.

According to the Wikileaks, the US Ambassador had found that while the Prime Minister wanted a talks with Pakistan, Narayanan had advocated a strong approach and had warned of expressing dissent openly.

Jaswant Singh said it was difficult to know whether India and Pakistan were moving ahead with the "spirit of Simla Agreement, the spirit of Sharm-el Sheikh or more recently Thimpu spirit," he added.

Recalling the developments since Independence, Jaswant Singh said India`s foreign policy suffers from the collective mistakes of the Congress.

It was a mistake on part of the Congress to agree to partition of the country and leave the issue of Jammu and Kashmir unresolved, the BJP leader said, adding the Congress repeated the mistake by accepting China`s authority on Tibet.

Recalling the conflict of 1962 with China, Singh said, "in reality China is expansionist…that is the nature of China.

It will continue to dominate. Already we have given a lot to China, let us not give our pride to China."

Attacking the government for its foreign policy, the BJP veteran alleged that it was being framed in Washington.

"…in its reality is not New Delhi (where policy is being framed). It seems Washington or elsewhere policy is being finalised", he said, referring to the new Wikileak expose.

Demanding a debate on the Wikileaks documents, he said, "only then discussion (on the affairs of MEA) will have some relevance".

He also asked External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to take up the issue of students and workers stranded in the US.

"Even today many students are under detention in the US.

It does not take 23 days for voice of India to be heard", he said, pointing to the plight of Indian students who were duped by fake Tri-Valley university and later radio-tagged.

He also wanted the government to attend to the needs of Indian workers in Florida in the US.

Referring to Nepal, Singh said the UPA government outsourced policy formulation by seeking the help of Communists.

"If Nepal is not a Hindu raj, than what it is?", Singh asked, saying "these great wrongs weigh upon India and citizens of India."

Suggesting that government in Nepal is being taken over by Maoists, Singh wanted to know from the government as to what it was doing to prevent the hill country from falling into further catastrophe.

The Minister also criticised the government for withdrawing the Asian Clearance Union (ACU) mechanism for paying for import of oil from Iran and voting against the country at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meetings.

"Voting against Iran at IAEA was a wrong decision", he said, adding India`s decision was in line with the desire expressed by the former US President George Bush.

Referring to political turmoil in the Middle-East, Singh said it was outcome of the "lines drawn on sand" to carve out nations by Britishers.

Emphasising that India has long and historical relations with Middle-East countries, he said, the government should not witness the events like a by-stander.

"Do intervene", he urged the government, adding, "if you do not interfere, events will interfere with you."

Congress member Shashi Tharoor, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, spelt out lucidly the initiatives of the External Affairs Ministry to build better ties with other countries.

Tharoor sought to allay concerns raised by Jaswant Singh over India`s troubled neighbourhood contending that the situation was better today than a couple of years ago when there was a civil war in Sri Lanka, an unfavourable government in Bangladesh and the opposition leader jailed in Maldives.

"I would argue that the neighbourhood has a much more positive environment," he said pointing out that the civil war in Sri Lanka has ended, the new government in Bangladesh was well disposed towards India, the jailed leader in Maldives had been elected as the President and Bhutan has managed the change from monarchy to democracy very well.

As Tharoor held forth on diplomacy, his wife Sunanda Pushkar watched him from the Speaker`s Gallery.

Tharoor made a strong pitch for increasing the number of diplomats and other personnel as India looks forward to play a major role in international affairs.

He said India stood at the fulcrum of transformation in international relations and the foreign policy pursued by the government was "adept, flexible and adaptive to new demands".

He also had the House in splits as he spoke highly of Indian films and television serials casting a spell on global audiences saying that the ministry of external affairs had no role this process.

On Pakistan, he said the situation there undoubtedly posed a challenge as it was perhaps the only nation where the Army had a State.

All over the world, the State has an Army but in Pakistan, the Army has a State, he said contending that Pakistan Army needed an enemy to justify the need for the enormous budget that has been allocated to it.

"The reality of Pakistan is as visible as a thorn pierced into our flesh," Tharoor said. He also favoured dialogue with Pakistan.

"When Pakistan is skating on thin ice, should we create a hole in it or help it skate off that ice," he asked.

On Singh`s concerns on China, Tharoor said the situation today was different than in 1962. He noted the role of Singh in the 1962 war against China but maintained that the current situation was different.

Today, India`s trade with China tops 60 billion dollars, over 7000 Indian students were pursuing higher studies in China, he said adding Indian pilgrims undertake journeys to Kailash-Mansarovar regularly and China has even allowed Indian banks to start operations there.

Tharoor contended that China has too much at stake in having normal relations with India.

"We should look China in the eye and tell them that they are welcome to use our markets as long as they behave," he said.