Guwahati, Dec. 21: Assam Governor Lt Gen. (retd) S.K. Sinha today made a strong pitch for a “pragmatic” foreign policy to check the twin problems of insurgency and terrorism that have affected the Northeast.
Delivering the fifth Lachit Barphukan memorial lecture on “India’s foreign policy in the new millennium”, organised by Gauhati University here this afternoon, Sinha said foreign policy has a big role in containing the two-pronged menace.
“Insurgency and terrorism have adversely affected the region. Militant outfits having sanctuaries across the Northeast’s porous international borders have wreaked havoc for the past several decades now. Therefore, the need is as much for a sound defence policy as for a foreign policy.”
Standing in for external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, who was supposed to deliver the lecture on one of Assam’s legendary military generals but did not turn up because of unavoidable circumstances, the Governor said foreign policy is “intimately connected” with the defence policy of a nation.
The northeastern states have as their neighbours Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar. Bhutan and Bangladesh, in particular, have been “harbouring” cadre of the banned Ulfa and the NDFB. The unabated influx from Bangladesh, too, has added to security concerns in the region.
“Foreign and defence policies are two sides of the same coin. A mismatch between the two often results in disastrous consequences, just as it happened in 1962. I was really looking forward to (Yashwant) Sinha’s observations on the twin issues. Unfortunately, he could not come because of unavoidable circumstances,” the Governor said of the external affairs minister, who is in the eye of a storm following the adverse observations of the joint parliamentary committee report on the stock market scam and the UTI crisis.
China had attacked the country in 1962 through Arunachal Pradesh.
Past guest speakers of the lecture, instituted in 1998, include President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, finance minister Jaswant Singh, former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and defence minister George Fernandes on topics such as “Developed India: A Vision”, “Integrating foreign and defence policies”, “Northeast in India’s security” and “Development of India’s relations with her neighbours”.