Even as Pakistan based terror groups are planning to foil Indian Elections India’s top diplomat Sujatha Singh issued a clear warning to Pakistan that the India will not tolerate any disruption of the election process in India by Pak backed terror groups.

“I completely agree that democracy is sacred and the election process the most sacred of all the aspects of democratic process. This is something anybody from the government of India will tell you.  There’s no way that anyone in India will counter any disruption from anywhere to our election process, that’s a message that’s loud and clear,” she said.

In an exclusive interview in the Foreign Office’s grand old Lutyens building, South Block, Singh was unusually candid. “We have at all times our interests in view, our priorities in view and the safeguarding of our critical interests, that is something that always is first and foremost in our mind. And we will take every step we need to take to defend it., “ the Indian Foreign Secretary said.

“India stands ready to extend the hand of friendship but for that to happen the process of terrorism and the sponsoring of cross border terrorist activities have to stop. There has to be a closure to what happened in Mumbai, the people involved have to be brought to justice,” the Indian Foreign Secretary said.

Echoing what the Afghan President Hamid Karzai said recently on Pakistan’s role in terror attacks in that country including the attack on Indian missions she said, “We are all aware that terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, including on the Indian mission and the consulates have had external elements to them. We are in touch with our friends in Afghanistan as well as in the international community, in working with them towards meeting a threat to our interests and interests of all friendly countries.”

 Asked with countries like Pakistan can diplomacy alone can work? Or you require more than diplomatic option to tackle them. Singh, whose father headed India’s intelligence bureau was candid, “There are both a series of issues that need to be dealt with and we’re dealing with them in collaboration with our international friends and partners.” She replied.

Singh spoke on a day when there were reports that one of the high profile envoys; Nancy Powell had quit, over her poor handling of the India relations, which led to the bilateral relationship reaching an all time low.

Last year Singh’s deft handling of the Devyani Khobragade standoff led to the Us climbing down on its stand on Khobragade.
” For the record, the episode happened after I left Washington. When one deals with situation with countries it has intense interactions with, the matters of concern are discussed. We brought up our views to the US and thereafter we worked together.”
Many believe that Nancy Powell’s exit was also hastened following clear message from Singh who is believed to have communicated to the US undersecretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman and Assistant Secretary for State Nisha Biswal that Powell’s role was not helpful.
However the foreign secretary was diplomatic, “I will not share what I shared with the state department and what I didn’t. Some issues need to stay away from the media.”
Probed further if this was a was a civilized behaviour by the US administration. She replied there are certain things that were done, that perhaps we would not have done. There were certain issues to which perhaps I would have had a different point of view.

She was candid that she looked forward to a new US envoy in New Delhi to fix the relationship.  “It’s an ongoing chapter. In the narrative that we have with our partners there are different issues, different events and there’s always a common thread of determining to resolve whatever  issues that come our way together in a spirit of cooperation.
India and the US have strategic partnership. We have a full spectrum of relationships extending from defence to science and technology, energy and a whole lot of issues. I don’t think you should just take one issue out of context, and see it as an ongoing relationship that both sides are trying very hard to nurture and progress.” She said.




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