South Block alone cannot frame foreign policy: Omar


Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday said South Block, which houses the external affairs ministry, alone cannot frame India’s foreign policy in the present-day world.

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“Gone are the days when South Block used to make foreign policy of India in isolation. In present-day India, public perception and common people’s mood has greater impact on the formation of foreign policy,” he said, speaking at a seminar on “Policy, people and peace in Inda and Canada and other democracies” at Jammu University.

Calling for a proactive foreign policy rather than a reactive one, Abdullah, who was minister of state for foreign affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, identified three important ingredients – strong democratic institutions, spread of education and growth of media – as major aspects for democratisation of foreign policy in India.

“Presently we observe that Indian people are proactive in reacting and expressing their views on the international issues bearing direct and indirect impact on the country.”

“Our democratic institutions, intelligentsia and media actively and openly dwell on issues like the nuclear deal, Copenhagen conference, environment policy and other issues having impact on India. The pros and cons of the foreign pacts and agreements are being extensively deliberated upon in various forums, conference and media,” he said, noting that these influence foreign policy and help in democratising it.

“The threadbare debates in parliament on foreign pacts and issues and the candid views of members all the more influence the democratisation of Indian foreign policy,” Abdullah said, adding it was “not surprising that foreign issues are becoming a part of regular mainstream politics in the country”.