Talks with neighbors must be based on civilized behavior: Sonia Gandhi
With beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops clearly weighing on her mind, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said on Friday that India's dialogue with its immediate neighbors must be based on accepted principles of civilized behavior.
"Better and closer relations with our immediate neighbors will not only make for regional peace - they will also have a positive impact on some of our own border states.
"However, let us be clear. Our dialogue must be based on accepted principles of civilized behaviour. We will never compromise on our vigil and preparedness to deal with terrorism and threats on our borders," she said in her address at Congress chintan shivir in Jaipur, in an apparent reference to Pakistan which has proposed talks between the foreign ministers.
Her remarks came as external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, speaking on the sidelines of the Congress meet, noted the "positive indications" from Pakistani side and said India will give an "appropriate" response if Islamabad makes a formal proposal for talks between the foreign ministers. Khurshid was asked by reporters on the offer of Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for discussions following tension at line of control (LoC) in the wake of beheading of Indian soldier by Pakistani troops on January 8.
The two-day chintan shivir of the Congress is being attended by top brass of the party including the Prime Minister, and the issue of Pakistan is expected to come up during discussions scheduled on the topic of India and the world. Sonia Gandhi said that India's foreign policy has always had a vision of the country occupying its rightful place and exercising its unique influence in world affairs. "That place and that influence will be significantly enhanced by successfully overcoming poverty, improving our secular values, strengthening our democratic institutions and engaging constructively with the international community," she said.
“Crimes against women must be put down firmly”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Friday that issues related to crimes against women and children must be promptly dealt with. "Discrimination against the girl child and atrocities against women are a blot on our collective conscience. Sexual harassment, women trafficking and female feticide should shake us and awaken us," Sonia Gandhi said at the party's meeting at Jaipur.
"Gender issues are fundamental and the entire party must bring this to the heart of political activity and change mindsets," she said.
Asking the Congress to look at its strengths, weaknesses and threats, Sonia Gandhi said: "There is increased competition and inroads have been made in our traditional strongholds. We have to strike a fine balance between respecting alliances and ensuring rejuvenation of the party." She asked party men to observe austerity. "Lavish weddings will lead to questions on where money came from," she said.
- Asian Tribune -