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'Gained Nothing by Hyping Surgical Strike': Pranab Mukherjee on PM Modi's Foreign Policy, Ties with Pak

Former President Pranab Mukherjee said that there was no need to “over-publicise” the 2016 surgical strikes. Sharing his opinion on several aspects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s various foreign policy measures, Mukherjee said that Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore to attend the birthday of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter was “unnecessary and uncalled for, given the conditions that prevailed in India-Pakistan relations.”

Mukherjee also stated that it would be in India’s interests to continue engaging with Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Commenting on the surgical strikes, which were carried out almost 10 days after the Uri terror attack where 18 Indian army soldiers were killed, Mukherjee said that such strikes by Indian forces across the border have been “normal military operations in response to Pakistan’s continued aggression.”

However, “there is really no need to over-publicise them,” adding that “we gained nothing by over-talking on these operations.”

Mukherjee, in the fourth volume of his autobiography ‘The Presidential Years: 2012-2017’, heaped praises on some of the initiatives of PM Modi. “One could expect the unexpected from Modi,” Mukherjee wrote, “because he had come with no ideological foreign policy baggage.” Further, he commended Modi’s initiative of inviting SAARC leaders to his swearing in and hosting Chinese President Xi Jingping twice.

“When Narendra Modi took over as PM, he had absolutely no experience in foreign affairs. As the CM of Gujarat, he had visited some countries, but those visits were limited to engaging for the good of his state, and had little to do with domestic or global foreign policies. Foreign policy was, therefore, a truly uncharted territory for him. But he did what no PM had attempted before: invite the heads of government/state of SAARC nations to his oath-taking ceremony in 2014—and this included Pakistan’s then PM, Nawaz Sharif. His out-of-thebox initiative took several foreign policy veterans by surprise,” Mukherjee wrote in his memoirs.

Mukherjee described the emergence of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s Prime Minister as “an interesting development”. He added, “Though we have to wait and watch how Imran evolves, particularly with respect to issues concerning India, I personally feel that India must engage with him. He is part of a new breed of politicians, is born in the post-Independence period and does not carry the old baggage of pre-partition politics that the Muslim League personified.”

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