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India’s left talks peace as rightwing looks the other way

NEW DELHI: India’s main leftist group pressed the government on Saturday to initiate talks with Islamabad to abort the military spike, but the rightwing establishment looked uninterested with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar making a searing jibe at the Pakistan Army.

Amid calls by Hindu nationalists to ban Pakistani artists and sportspersons, Communist leader Sitaram Yechury on Saturday said art and sports should be kept outside political conflicts.

“We should rise above this, and treat art and sports as what they are,” Mr Yechury told ANI news agency. He said that action could be taken against an artist or sportsman only over “specific information” suggesting that they were trying to harm the country.

On the India-Pakistan tension, Mr Yechury said his Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) believes there should be no further escalation. “India from a position of strength should initiate political and the diplomatic move with Pakistan to eliminate scourge of cross-border terrorism.”

He also mentioned that Pakistan’s interest in seeking closer defence cooperation with the United States could become a “serious situation” for the region.

“After India became USA’s strategic defence partner, now Pakistan is negotiating closer defence cooperation with USA; it’s serious situation developing,” Mr Yechury said.

He had no comment for Russia’s military exercise with Pakistan and China’s stratetgic interest in the country. India’s stature as an “independent country” was being “severely compromised”, he said. “This is the first time that an Indian prime minister didn’t attend NAM summit.”

‘Anaesthetised patient’

In his first remarks after what India claims it conducted a surgical military strike across the Line of Control on Wednesday, Mr Parrikar compared Pakistan’s condition to an “anaesthetised patient” after a surgery and said like Lord Hanuman, Indian Army had recognised its prowess.

“Pakistan’s condition after the surgical strikes is like that of an anaesthetised patient after a surgery who doesn’t know that the surgery has already been performed on him. Even two days after the surgical strikes, Pakistan has no idea what has happened,” Mr Parrikar said.

India loves peace and does not believe in unprovoked aggression but it won’t take terror lying down, he said, adding that the strikes were also meant to give a message to Pakistan that Indian troops knew how to retaliate.

In a reference to the Ramayana, he compared the Indian Army to Lord Hanuman who had crossed an ocean in a single stride after he was reminded about his extraordinary powers by Jamwant.

“Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Mr Parrikar said.

“Indian troops caught Pakistan unawares as our commandos did what they had to without Pakistani authorities getting a wind of it,” he said addressing a gathering at Peethsain in Uttarakhand’s Pauri district.

Published in Dawn October 2nd, 2016

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