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Rajat Dubey asked: India has been equivocating in its approach towards the Arab turmoil. As Islamist parties gain power, what will be its impact on India’s position in West Asia in times to come?

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  • Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: What might seem as equivocation is in fact a measured policy vis-à-vis the developments in the Arab world. Indian statements are cautious and people-oriented. India has reasons to be circumspect in light of the uncertain political environment and therefore it has perhaps resisted the temptation to join party with forces taking on the incumbent regimes, even if they seem to be in the driver's seat. India's abiding concern for religious radicalism may have conditioned this thinking as well.

    Islamic parties coming to power in these societies should not be seen as boding disaster for India. The Islamist forces in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere are likely to be as nationalistic in their outlook as the regimes they displaced. Therefore, they are likely to retain their diplomatic links with India with as much fervour, if not more, as their predecessors. India must not allow its anxiety vis-à-vis the fundamentalists to affect its diplomatic dealings with these countries.

    In case, the Islamist forces show any reluctance, which is most unlikely, in strengthening their relationship with India - a rising economy with substantial Muslim population, and with decades of fruitful bilateral relationship - India must bide for time and push for better diplomatic relationship rather than push itself hurriedly into isolation. It must also coordinate its diplomacy with other important players in international politics.