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15 Jul 2017

Restraint sign on China row..... Opposition stood with the government

TT, New Delhi, July 14: The Opposition today stood with the government on China at an all-party meeting today and called for a diplomatic solution to the stand-off on the eastern frontier.
But it asked tough questions, joined by NDA constituent Shiv Sena, on the "security failure" during the Amarnath Yatra and the worsening Kashmir situation.
Barring Samajwadi Party patriarch and former defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who reportedly prodded the government to take a tough stand against China and even appeared to be pushing for war, the wider Opposition underlined the need for a "diplomatic solution".
On Kashmir, the Opposition forcefully asked why the government was not holding talks with various groups, stressing that what was happening in the Valley was related to the overall situation in the country, sources said.
On the specific attack on the pilgrims, the Congress posed several questions on how the bus was allowed to ply after the stipulated safe hours when security had been withdrawn from the route.
"We are against terrorism but what is happening in the country is related to national security. The situation in the country is very bad and the government seems unconcerned," leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress's Ghulam Nabi Azad, was learnt to have said at the meeting.
Azad, according to the sources, said the government's attitude of refusing any talks with the people of Kashmir was worsening the situation.
"It seems you don't want to talk to the people of Kashmir," sources quoted CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury as having said at the meeting. Home minister Rajnath Singh, who chaired the meeting, told the Opposition leaders that the government was ready to talk but the situation in the Valley was not conducive.
Trinamul leader Derek O'Brien asked tough questions on the "security failure" in the attack on the pilgrims, the sources said. "The government was aware of the security problem. Why didn't they take it seriously? Why the lapse? The failure? Why didn't the government act?" O'Brien was quoted as saying.
BJP ally Sena also attacked the government over Kashmir. Sena MP Anandrao Adsul questioned the security failure and demanded tough action. "Enough of talks, now it's time for action," Adsul was learnt to have said.
On China, Yechury said national interest was paramount and to safeguard it, the government must enter into negotiations with the neighbour. He said some of the signals sent out by the government are being seen as irritants by Beijing, adding that India's relations with other neighbours had also developed rough spots.
Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief and former defence minister, spoke at length and underlined the need for a diplomatic solution to the stand-off with China. He also tried to restrain Mulayam when the Samajwadi veteran harped on acting tough with Beijing. Both will separately meet defence minister Arun Jaitley to share with him insights from their past stints as defence ministers.
After the meeting, the foreign office said it had stressed the "importance of India and China to remain engaged through diplomacy" to leaders from the Opposition parties. The parties, ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, had "expressed strong support for India's approach and also for the need for national unity".
But the foreign ministry statement on the meeting remained cautious in avoiding bluster or threats of the kind India and its other major neighbour, Pakistan, frequently employ against each other through political or parliamentary resolutions.
Instead, Baglay and other foreign ministry officials continued to stress that India would approach the stand-off on the basis of a two-point understanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi had arrived at with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Astana (Kazakhstan) on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit last month.
That understanding, outlined by foreign secretary S. Jaishankar then and also earlier this week, included a recognition that in an uncertain world, India and China could serve as pillars of stability. Modi and Xi also agreed in Astana to work to ensure that bilateral "differences do not become disputes" and that they effectively succeed in managing tensions as they have over the past 50 years, without a single bullet fired along their contested border.

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