India's Plural Ambience Under Threat: Hamid Ansari
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
KARAN THAPAR: In the limited time left to me, I want to raise with you2 problems. You have been a very successful diplomat. You’ve been as I said in my introduction an ambassador or High Commissioner to six countries including the UN before you became Vice-President. And it’s in that light that I want to raise briefly, two issues of deep concern. The first is the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking in Bangalore on Sunday you said and I am quoting “the political immobility in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is disconcerting.” Are you suggesting that the Governments both in Srinagar and Delhi ought to be taking more initiatives and are not. Is that the immobility that you are talking about?
HAMID ANSARI: Yes. Yes. The problem is and has always been primarily a political problem. And it has to be addressed politically.
KARAN THAPAR: And politicians today are ducking it?
HAMID ANSARI: That’s my impression. And I’m not the only one in the country.
KARAN THAPAR: So when you look at the trajectory of developments from say the killing of Burhan Wani in July last year and the way things have escalated, are you worried about what is happening in Kashmir? Are you apprehensive that the situation may be passing beyond a point of control?
HAMID ANSARI: Well when young boys and girls come out on to the streets and throw stones day after day, week after week, month after month, it’s something to worry about because they are our children, they are our citizens. Something is obviously going wrong. What exactly, I am not the final word on it, but I think there are enough people in the country who are worried about it. Eminent people belonging to different political persuasions and their worry must be taken on board.
KARAN THAPAR: And in your speech when you said this immobility is disconcerting you were actually saying to those in authority, be they in Delhi and Srinagar, you got to respond and act. You can’t not do so?
HAMID ANSARI: Those are my words. I have expressed, expressed my worry in my own terms. Now whether someone reads it or not is not my business.
KARAN THAPAR: The second issue that is problematic today is the India China standoff at Doklam. Just 48 hours or so, the Chinese newspaper the Global Times quoted a Chinese expert who said that a small scale military operation is possible may be even likely in two weeks. Speaking of the apprehension in India are you apprehensive about this situation?
HAMID ANSARI: Not really. I think we have had these periods of standoffs with China. And there is enough knowledge, enough experience, enough wisdom still available to be able to retrieve situations.
KARAN THAPAR: This is a very interesting answer that you are giving because the point made repeatedly by the government or the MEA spokesperson is that the present standoff is not substantively different to those we have seen in the past. The Chinese as you know have vigorously and strenuously denied that. You are relatively sanguine about the handling of the situation. You are not worried even though many in the newspapers and television are beginning to express anxiety and fear. You don’t fall into that category.
HAMID ANSARI: The totality of Indian experience in dealing with China is very considerable makes me think that we will handle it.
KARAN THAPAR: And you are confident or not at least apprehensive at the moment that we are handling it properly?
HAMID ANSARI: No I think that the government will manage it.
For part one: here