Noting that under the NDA government the country has moved towards a "pragmatic" foreign policy from earlier "romanticism", BJP general secretary Ram Madhav today said the Centre would talk to Pakistan, but on "our terms".
"Today we are very pragmatic in our foreign policy... We know how to deal with our neighbours. America advises us that dialogue is the only option. We will hold dialogue when required... Our Prime Minister is not a 'mauni swami'. But we will talk on our terms," Madhav said, delivering a talk on 'Look East, Act East, What Next?', organised by NGO Awareness in Action here.
"We converted the 1971 war victory into a diplomatic defeat through the 1973 Shimla agreement. This was a classic case of romanticism taking over pragmatism. Over 90,000 Pakistani PoWs (Prisoners of war)... You had a wonderful opportunity to free PoK from Pakistan. But we agreed to release all of them without getting anything in return. We are paying the price for it even 40 years after that in J&K.
"Today, the Prime Minister of Pakistan says he is dreaming for the day when Kashmir in India is united with Kashmir in Pakistan... Our Foreign Minister will answer him and that's all. This is called pragmatism," he said.
"We have to talk with Pakistan... We will talk. I am not saying we should not talk. We will talk on our terms," he said.
Countries need a strategic culture, he said.
"Unfortunately in our country strategic culture was not developed. On strategic issues...Whether it is our relationship with Pakistan or with China or with another country, our whole thinking is more romantic or idealistic.
"After the independence we believed in certain romantic ideas -- Panchasheel, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and 'Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai'. These slogans were very attractive for us and we believed that should be our policy. Nothing wrong about it (these slogans)," Madhav said.
"Problem with us is that these slogans are a policy, not just a strategy. In international relations, you cannot be romantic and you cannot be merely idealistic. You have to be pragmatic. You have to be cold-blooded pragmatic," he said.
The Chinese describe their system as "Communism with Chinese characteristics", but it is actually nationalism in the garb of Communism, he said, noting that Mao Tse Tung had a running feud with the Communist Soviet Russia and befriended the USA in his country's interests in 1971.
This kind of pragmatism was needed in India, he said.
"We believed that we did not belong to that bloc or this bloc (during the cold war) and we should have our own bloc -- NAM. But our romanticism continues even to this day. We have to change it. It has to be a very pragmatic foreign policy. (Former Prime Minister) Narasimha Rao attempted it in his tenure," Madhav said.
"After our (BJP-led) government came to power, we realised that time has come for us to transform this foreign policy into a pragmatic... We have started greater, extended engagement in the world today than what it used to be before. Today every Indian everywhere in the world is standing with his head held high," he said.