Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former defence minister Sharad Pawar said that the issues with China should be resolved with dialogue and diplomatic strategies with the help of intervention by other nations and the United Nations. Pawar also said that India's main opponent is China and not Pakistan but New Delhi cannot afford a direct war with it.
Pawar, in the second part of the three-part interview to Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana, said that the Modi government tried to take a different stand on India's relations with other countries but it did not work.
"We never changed our foreign policies for the relations with other countries and they were in continuation since Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or even Atal Behari Vajpayee's rule. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to take a different stand by calling Chinese President Xi Jinping on friendly visits and treated him on a swing (at the banks of Sabarmati). Modi tried to create a picture of having created ties of friendship with the neighbour. But these efforts have not worked," he said.
Pawar said that China has successfully wooed all neighbouring countries including Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka against India. "PM Modi's first visit after taking over as the prime minister was to Nepal, but the neighbour now stands by China. Pakistan has already shifted its loyalty. India played a major role in the liberation of Bangladesh, but the country recently inked an agreement with China. Same is the case with Sri Lanka. This means all the countries surrounding India have started talking against it. The disagreement in relationship with these neighbours is the 'latest contribution' (of Modi government)," he said.
The NCP chief said that the issues with China cannot be resolved by war. "Our military strength is just a tenth of China's and in such a backdrop, we cannot have direct war with the neighbour. It is true that we have readied our military forces and could have a war and are ready to pay the price if the need be. But instead of that, we should try to solve it with diplomatic strategies and dialogue. We have lost our territory to China more than 50 years ago and we have our dispute with it over it. We should build pressure with the help of other countries and the United Nations to regain it," he said.
Pawar said that though China's first enemy, almost three decades back, was the United States or Japan, it has now started posing against India and it was its strategy. "When I visited China as defence minister in 1993 and met the then president of China, he had hinted at this. He had said that the country does not want to have any clashes with the neighbouring countries as their main target at that point of time was the US. He had said that they will look at neighbouring countries after about 25 years," he said.
Pawar, while replying to a question by Saamana's executive editor Sanjay Raut, said that the country's economic crisis needs to be handled differently. He said that the Modi government needs to adopt a different policy for the revival of the economy which has been in the crisis in the view of the global Covid-19 pandemic.