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Congress Promises to Set Up Foreign Policy Council, Law on Asylum in its Manifesto

Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh display copies of their party's election manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi. (Image: Reuters)

Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh display copies of their party's election manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi. (Image: Reuters)

In the manifesto, the Congress said that a foreign council -- comprising of members of the cabinet committee, national security experts and domain experts -- will be set-up to advice the government on its foreign policy.

Aishwarya Kumar
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New Delhi: Congress on Tuesday announced that it would set up a separate council on foreign policy if it came to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

"Congress Will Deliver" - with this tagline, the party released its manifesto for the national election starting April 11. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, launched his party's poll promises, flanked by his mother Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram.

In the manifesto, the Congress said that a foreign council -- comprising of members of the cabinet committee, national security experts and domain experts -- will be set-up to advice the government on its foreign policy.

Notably, the party also promised to pass a Law on Asylum in tandem with universal treaties and regulations. This is a significant development, as India is yet to have a law on those seeking asylum, despite being a country that attracts the largest number of refugees from world over.

Usually, asylum is granted on a case-to-case or ad hoc basis, but India is yet to have a formal policy on it and neither is it a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.

The party has also vowed to revive the SAARC. While the party made no specific mention to its stand on Pakistan's participation in SAARC, it is noteworthy, considering how BJP has been on precarious grounds on the matter. Last year, the government had said that given the circumstances with Pakistan, it was difficult to go ahead with SAARC.

Addressing the problem of terrorism and Pakistan, the Congress said that it will “persuade other countries to compel Pakistan to verifiable end its support to terrorist groups that it shelters”. Condemning acts of terror, the party added that it is against terrorism in any form, anywhere in the world, and promised that it will work towards engaging more with the United Nations to constantly review its terror financing and sanctions list.

The party has also mentioned that it would work in close coordination with neighbouring countries, including Sri Lanka and Pakistan, to sort of issues of conflict when it came to fishermen. According to the lists exchanged between India and Pakistan as on 1 January 2019, the latter has acknowledged the custody of 483 fishermen.

Additionally, Ministry of External Affairs, in Parliament earlier this year, had said that in the past three years there had been occasions when the arrested Indian fishermen have complained of assault by Sri Lanka Navy.

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