New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been “crystal clear” that he will never allow terrorism, especially of the cross-border nature, to be normalised, and this determination has shaped India’s policy towards Pakistan since 2014, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has said.
Writing in the book “[email protected]: Dreams Meet Delivery”, Jaishankar recalled Modi’s parting instructions for him when he was set for his ‘SAARC Yatra’ in 2015 after becoming foreign secretary.
“The PM told me that he had great confidence in my experience and judgement, but there is one thing I should keep in mind when I arrive at Islamabad. He was different from his predecessors and would neither overlook nor tolerate terrorism. There should never be any ambiguity on this score,” he said.
In his dealing with boundary dispute involving China, Modi has displayed requisite patience and this has been accompanied by a steely resolve to not allow the LAC to be changed unilaterally, Jaishankar wrote.
“The leadership and willpower were equally in evidence when it came to the deployment of forces in challenging conditions on the China border. The effective response of our armed forces in 2020 is a story in itself,” he said in an apparent reference to the Sino-India standoff in eastern Ladakh.
Opposition parties have repeatedly accused the government of not disclosing the real extent of the Chinese incursion, a charge rejected by it.
As foreign secretary and thereafter as external affairs minister, Jaishankar noted in the book, he has been associated with the neutralisation of insurgent camps on the Myanmar border in 2015, the surgical strike at Uri in 2016, the face-off at Doklam in 2017 and the “robust response” at the border in Ladakh since 2020.
On each of these occasions, a decision-making style honed by a strong understanding of ground complexity has been very much in evidence, he said.
Goals have been set clearly after due deliberation and those charged with the responsibility of execution have been given the requisite space, he said, adding that this is true as much of the diplomatic side as the security one.
Modi’s approach is not one of just reacting to the moment, and, for the first time, there is a serious and comprehensive effort to create an effective border infrastructure, he said.
“The budget itself has more than doubled since 2014. The roads completed also almost doubled in the 2014-21 period in comparison to 2008-14. For the same periods, the bridges completed in fact virtually tripled, while tunnel construction took a quantum jump,” he said.
Acknowledging the border infrastructure gap with China, which he notes has outstripped India so much since 1988, Jaishankar said yet, the gaps have started to narrow in some critical sectors and operational deployments have become more feasible.
Dwelling on Modi’s foreign policy touch, he said there is also personal respect the prime minister has drawn that influences the attitude of others.
Peers perceive him as quintessentially Indian and respond accordingly, the minister added.
“His language, metaphors, appearance, mannerisms and habits, they define a persona that the world has come to recognise. I recall how fascinated American leaders were about his fasting habits during the 2014 visit. Or the interest the Europeans showed in his yoga routine,” he said.
In concrete ways, the personal ties Modi has forged with world leaders have directly advanced the interests of our nation and people, he said.
“It could be the Saudi King responding to his request for a ceasefire in Yemen to allowing evacuation of Indians. Or indeed, the increase in the Haj quota for Indian Muslims and the construction of the Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi… And with more than one partner, there has been an exceptional response to urgent security needs. Truth be told, a vigorous and interactive leader makes all the difference,” he wrote.