Close confidant of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and chairman of the Overseas Indian National Congress Sam Pitroda, in an interview with ANI, said that attacking Pakistan with an airstrike was "not the right approach" in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack as he advocated that talks should be held with the neighbouring country. Pitroda said that it is "naive" to blame the whole nation (Pakistan) for an attack undertaken by eight people, referring to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
However, after receiving backlash for his remarks absolving Pakistan of its role in sponsoring terror, Pitroda has said that he would issue a clarification on his interview shortly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted and said, "Opposition insults our forces time and again." Modi added that 130 crore Indians will neither forgive nor forget Opposition's antics.
When asked about his views on the Indian Air Force's airstrike against the Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, Pitroda said that international news outlets had an alternate view of the impact of the air strike and that the people of India deserved to know the facts of the Air Force operation. “I would like to know a little more because I read reports in the New York Times and other newspapers. Did we really attack? We really killed 300 people? “If they (IAF) killed 300, it is okay. All I am saying is can you give me more facts and prove it,” Pitroda said.
"I don’t know that. As a citizen, I am entitled to know and if I ask it is my duty to ask, that doesn’t mean I’m not a nationalist, That doesn’t mean I am on this side or that side. We need to know the facts. If you say 300 people were killed, I need to know that. We all need to know that, people of India need to know that and then comes global media which says nobody was killed. I look bad as an Indian citizen,” said Pitroda.
Pitroda, who is part of the Congress’ manifesto committee for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and is considered a senior ideologue of the party, sought a dialogue with Pakistan. “I am a Gandhian, I believe in more compassion and respect. I believe in more dialogues personally. I think we should have a dialogue with everybody. Why just Pakistan? We are having a dialogue with the whole world,” added Pitroda.
Pressed further to clarify if talks with Pakistan was an option post the Pulwama terror attack which killed 40 CRPF jawans, Pitroda said that it would be naïve to assume that if some people came here and attacked, every citizen of that nation is to be blamed. “I don’t know much about (Pulwama) attack, it happens all the time, attack happen in Mumbai Taj hotel and Oberoi hotel. We could have reacted then and sent our planes but that is not the right approach according to me that’s not how you deal with the World. Eight people come (referring to Mumbai 26/11 attacks) and do something, you don’t jump on the entire nation,” said Sam Pitroda in an interview to ANI.
When asked if he questioned the Indian Air Force’s version of the Balakot air strikes, Pitroda clarified that an attack is different from making a claim of 300 dead. “We cannot be emotional. Data has to be neutral. So you come in today and say ‘I killed 300 people’ and I say wait a minute, the World is saying we didn’t kill anybody or kill less or kill more... I don’t know,” added Pitroda. Sam Pitroda added a caveat to his remarks on the Pulwama terror attack and Balakot air strikes by saying that the views expressed by him were his personal views and not those of the Congress party. “I am talking as an individual. I am talking as a scientist. I believe in reason. I believe in logic. I believe in data. I don’t believe in emotions,” he added.
When asked if Manmohan Singh as prime minister was as decisive Modi, Pitroda said that Singh was one of the best prime ministers India has ever had. "A lot of people ridiculed, a lot of people have written articles, they have done movies. It is all bogus," he added. Pitroda also said that he disagreed with the way Modi acted post-Pulwama attack.
Pitroda further added that since 2014, a populist government had risen in both India and the United States. "The formula is to create fear by saying that there is an enemy at the border. In India, it is Pakistan. In the US, it is Mexican immigrants. Then say everything is bad because nobody is competent," he added.
He further commented on whether he thinks Modi's "strong" stance is what is required to deal with the current situation. "India will have to decide, strong is not necessarily a good thing for democracy. Hitler was also very strong, all dictators are strong, Chinese leader is very strong, is that what India wants?"?
With inputs from ANI
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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2019 12:44:07 IST