Mumbai: Union petroleum and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri is optimistic about Pakistan occupied Kashmir joining India "soon".
Replying to questions from Rajat Sharma in 'Aap Ki Adalat' show, on India TV, Puri said, "the economic situation in Pakistan has deteriorated so much that after sometime, some parts of that country may like to merge with India".
Asked by Rajat Sharma when people of India will see Pak occupied Kashmir joining India, Puri replied: "Jaldi" (soon). He did not elaborate.
Puri, who has been a diplomat for 39 years, said: "There has been a sea change in India-Pakistan relations in the last nine years. No more is India tagged with Pakistan. This has been possible because of Prime Minister Modi. Modi has three big characteristics: One, he does what he promises. Two, his dream of making India a developed nation by 2047 will become a reality. Three, in a deeply divided world, Modi is playing the role of a unifier. This became clear at the recently held G20 summit in India."
On the demand for Khalistan by separatists based in Canada, Hardeep Singh Puri said: "Let them create Khalistan in Canada, because most of the Khalistanis are based there. I consider this a cuckooland....... Our 10th Guru Gobind Singh had formed the Khalsa. Today Sikhs constitute less than two per cent of India's population, and yet Punjab dominates in agriculture, transport, medicine, law and other fields. .....With India fast emerging among the top three economies of the world, very soon we will find Indians living in US and Canada returning to India because of better economic opportunities."
On a recent report by Financial Times, London about US foiling a plan by Indian operatives to kill separatist Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, Hardeep Puri said: "I have a different opinion about Financial Times. It publishes news reports about oil daily, which I do not trust. It is not India's policy to eliminate terrorists on foreign soil."
Asked by Rajat Sharma why enemies of India like Pannu should not be eliminated, Puri only replied: "Let me keep my feelings in my heart. I should not say more. But let me tell you, this is not our policy, not is it our system....Will they say Indian operatives carried out the Air India Kanishka bombing in 1985? Why is there violence, extremism and drugs in Canada? The terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was killed, was denied visa several times by the Canadian authorities."
Puri said, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had been supporting separatists since long. "When he came to Amritsar, I and Navjot Singh Sidhu, then a minister in Punjab, received him and took him to Darbar Sahib. Trudeau had been critical of India since long on the issue of Khalistan separatists. Their behavior on this issue was 'chid-chida'(harsh)".
Puri disclosed how at a lunch hosted for the Canadian PM by Modi, one of the Canadian ministers, Navdeep Singh Bains openly said, "I went to Canada and became a minister". "I replied to him, 'Look, I stayed in India and became a minister", Puri said.
Puri disclosed how in 2017, he got a sudden call from the Prime Minister's office to come and meet Modi. "I was in Colombo at that time attending an Indian Ocean conference. I met the Prime Minister at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. He invited me for breakfast, and asked me to go to Rashtrapati Bhavan to take the oath of minister. I almost literally fell off my chair when he said this. Later, I got the ticket for Rajya Sabha."
On Rahul Gandhi, Hardeep Singh Puri denied that he ever called him an "ass". "It was a proverb that I was quoting. I was 'getting an ass to run a horse's race'. I never said, Rahul was a donkey.(Maine kabhi nahin kaha woh gadhaa hain). But on foolishness, I had said, there are three kinds of fools in the world - an ordinary one, an extraordinary one, and the third I call Chakravarthi."
Puri disclosed how as a special emissary of the government he had to travel through the jungle of Jaffna to meet LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran in 1987 to get his approval for India-Sri Lanka peace agreement. "There were landmines on the way, and we had to travel at night to avoid attacks. Our military adviser was an Indian Navy officer. It was a secretive mission. It was a professional high water for me", Puri said.