Indian PM Singh's foreign policy in tatters as elections draw near
- POSTED: 28 Dec 2013 00:32
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second term is slowly drawing to a close and political commentators have started scrutinising Dr Singh's foreign policy.
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second term is slowly drawing to a close and political commentators have started scrutinising Dr Singh's foreign policy.
Some Indian media commentaries are already headlining ‘the Prime Minister's foreign policy legacy lies in tatters’.
The two pillars of Dr Singh's foreign policy are to see a marked improvement in US-India ties and take trust building efforts with nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan to a new level.
But 2013 is coming to an end and those two key foreign policies seem to be on a shaky wicket.
The recent arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York has brought to the surface the strain and mistrust in India-US relations.
New Delhi claims the Indian diplomat was ill-treated and is not guilty of the offences that she has been charged with, but the US denies any wrongdoing.
In a spate of tit-for-tat measures, India has taken steps to pare down the privileges of US diplomats, further straining ties between the two strategic partners.
However, the slide in relations goes beyond just this incident.
R Rajagopalan, a political analyst, said: "Indo-US policy was given a top priority by every government, but in the past two to three years, it slid down because of the UPA's (United Progressive Alliance) intentional vote-bank politics to whip up sentiments".
"Anti-US sentiments in India, especially in the minority areas, will whip up and UPA will come out clean and Congress party will win the votes of minority."
Turning to Pakistan, relations plummeted this year after tensions flared up at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir which serves as a border between the two countries.
Shelling and casualties at the LoC have left analysts wondering if the 2003 ceasefire will hold. India says there were 195 violations by Pakistan in 2013 alone.
A meeting between Dr Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was held in New York, but observers say more needs to be done on trust building efforts.
On December 24, Pakistan and India decided to "revitalise" existing mechanisms to maintain truce on the LoC after director generals of military operations (DGMOs) of the two sides held face-to-face talks for the first time in 14 years at the Wagah border.
A joint statement said the DGMOs "agreed to re-energise the existing mechanisms" to maintain the ceasefire on the LoC.
In the nine years that Dr Singh has been Prime Minister, he has received several invitations to visit Pakistan, but the visit has not materialised.
"Internal contradictions, the elections, vote-bank politics -- these are the things that were constraints for Dr Manmohan Singh not going to Pakistan… If you allowed him now he would have gone, but the policy as such was not properly articulated," said Mr Rajagopalan.
India's relations with some of the other South Asian countries have also been strained in the past year.
Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh feel let down by India and with the 2014 general elections just a few months away, the Congress-led (UPA) seems to have all but abandoned Dr Singh's foreign policy agenda.
It is highly unlikely that the Congress party will nominate Dr Singh as its prime ministerial candidate for the third time.
Dr Singh will go down in history, quite like his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as the prime minister who tried very hard to decrease the trust deficit with the US and Pakistan, but was not very successful.