23/09/2020

‘We are not the only country dealing with disturbances in our neighbourhood. Europe has seen conflict; the US had 9/11. How did they respond?’ asked the External Affairs Minister at the Raisina Dialogue

Indias challenges of terrorism, separatism and migration are only a national variant of other countries that face similar global challenges, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said, referring to Kashmir, NRC and the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Defending the government in response to a question posed to him at the MEAs annual international conference Raisina Dialogue about how he deals with criticism in several world capitals, Mr. Jaishankar said those countries criticising India must consider how they themselves have dealt with the same issues.
Others should answer, how did they respond? We are not the only country dealing with disturbances in our neighbourhood. Europe has seen conflict; the US had 9/11 (terror attacks). How did they respond? It is important to reflect on your own way of handling these issues. On naturalisation (immigration laws), what is the pathway they took? said Mr. Jaishankar, adding that critics must not get fixated on the dots and ignore the line or big picture.
China relations
Mr. Jaishankars comments came even as a UN Security Council meet was due to get under way in New York, where China informed that it will raise the issue of Kashmir as a part of informal consultations. Chinas decision came after a recent aborted attempt to raise the issue at the UNSC, which had already had one discussion on August 16 last year. In addition, China has overruled objections from other P-5 members like France, which said clearly that the Kashmir issue must be settled bilaterally. Also at the Raisina Dialogue, the Foreign Minister of Estonia, which is a non-permanent member of the UNSC also supported Indias stand that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.
In a session that lasted nearly an hour, Mr. Jaishankar parried questions on a range of issues, including India-US ties, which he called wide-ranging, the decision to walk out of Asian trade talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Brand India and the relationship between India and China, which he called No.2 and No. 3 in the world economy.
There is no doubt that we have to get on together. The challenge is only in the terms of the relationship. If you are No. 2&3 in the world economy and are neighbours, the logic of reaching a stable relationship is undeniable, he said, adding that ties were a work in progress. He also said that the government has not closed its mind to joining RCEP, the 16-nation ASEAN led FTA that includes China.
To a question on whether India was more a talker than a doer on Indias connectivity and strategic projects in its immediate neighbourhood, Mr. Jaishankar, pointed to 142 connectivity projects worldwide of which 53 have been completed, pointing out specific road, rail and waterways in Nepal and Bangladesh.
Indias way
When asked what Indias way in foreign policy is, the External Affairs Minister, who was a career diplomat from 1977-2018, said that India doesnt wish to be a disruptionist power, mercantilist or self-centred but to be rules-based, and a just and fair power.
We are a pluralistic society and a market economy. What has changed, with more influence and greater capacity, is that we express ourselves more decisively, he concluded.