New Delhi– The Congress Party on Monday hit out at the Centre over the ICCR’s role in co-sponsoring the Karachi Literature Festival, saying it “exposes the Narendra Modi government’s duplicity, hypocrisy and a complete lack of a policy towards Pakistan”.
The Congress also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what it said was using armed forces as a prop for political and electoral purposes and using national security as a “political football”.
“In an election rally, Modi said ‘attack me if you want, don’t ever question the integrity of our armed forces’. It is extremely unfortunate and highly regrettable that the Prime Minister is using or misusing armed forces as a prop for political and electoral purposes,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.
However, ICCR Director General Amarendra Khatua said they only sponsored the travel of four Indian authors to the festival held from February 10-12.
“We did not sponsor the event. We only sponsored the travel of four Indian authors to the festival. The total amount spent was less than Rs 1.6 lakh. A lot of authors reach out to us for travel assistance during such festivals and we support them. The decision was made in 2016 itself,” Khatua told IANS.
Tewari said: “It is ironic that the Prime Minister’s statement comes when reports have emerged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government through the ICCR decided to part-sponsor the Karachi Literature Festival,” he said.
“The pendulum has swung from ‘no talks till terror abates’ to ‘talking about terror’ and finally to establishing contact by using this surreptitious cultural facade,” the Congress leader said.
“This itself exposes the duplicity, hypocrisy and complete lack of a policy towards Pakistan as far as this government is concerned.”
Tewari said: “No one has ever said that people-to-people contact should never be there. We have no enmity or ill-will towards the people of Pakistan. It is the deep State of Pakistan which continues to be inimical to the interests of India.”
“Our policy regarding Pakistan needs to be coherently defined, cogently articulated and implemented in a calibrated manner, something which this government has completely failed to do.”
Festival’s founder-Director Ameena Saiyid is seemingly overwhelmed by the ICCR’s support and said she regards it as a “friendly and progressive initiative” by India’s flagship cultural body.
Saiyid confirmed that the ICCR “supported the Karachi Literature Festival in a small way by sponsoring the visit to Karachi of four Indian literary personalities”.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Manish Tewari also referred to Modi’s remark on armed forces: “Nobody has ever questioned the integrity of our armed forces. But we will request the PM to refrain from using the armed forces as a political prop.”
“We would like to underscore and emphasise that the Centre has made a complete and absolute hash of national security. For them, national security is not about securing the nation, but a mere political football, which has to be exploited for elections,” said Tewari.
Attacking the government further, Tewari said reports have emerged that the Inter-Services Intelligence has, according to the enforcement agencies, been successful in counterfeiting the new Indian currency notes.
“If the ISI has been counterfeiting the new notes, then where does it leave Modi’s assertions that the objective of (the November 8) demonetisation to tackle counterfeit currency and rein in terror financing,” the Congress leader said. (IANS)