India balanced in handling Ukraine crisis: Jaishankar


New Delhi: India has struck a balance between calling for an immediate end to hostilities in Ukraine and protecting the country’s interests to deal with fuel and food shortages, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.

Greater integration within South Asia can only happen if India takes the lead, Jaishankar said at a discussion on the book “Modi@20: Dreams meet delivery” at Delhi University. Other countries in the region are looking to India to take the lead and put up the resources for it, he added.

Comparing what is happening in Ukraine to situations in the Mahabharata that show life is complex and that not all choices are in black and white, he said India had adopted the “right course” since the crisis began in February. “The most urgent issue…is to prevent hostilities from escalating to a level where it only does harm,” he said.

Like Lord Krishna, India has done everything to prevent war and advocate a return to dialogue and diplomacy, he said. India has to manage its historical and strategic interests at stake, as well as larger issues flowing out of the Ukraine crisis, such as fuel, food and fertiliser shortages, he added.

Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s determination that he would not allow cross-border terrorism to be normalised has helped in shaping India’s Pakistan policy since 2014. “When it comes to terrorism, especially of cross-border nature, he has been crystal clear that he would not allow it to be normalised. This determination has shaped our Pakistan policy since 2014,” he added.

“When the global (citizen) is very deeply impacted by what is happening in a conflict, then the more sagacious (and) sober voices need to speak,” he said. At the same time, India has to do what it has to do to protect its interests, he added.

Responding to a question on South Asia, Jaishankar said India is paying a lot of attention to the region because almost every country in the neighbourhood has a border with India, which is the biggest economy and polity, and also the most connected.

“I believe, and I know this is the Prime Minister’s conviction very strongly, the initiative (and) the responsibility of actually creating a region in South Asia rests a lot with us. If we take the initiative, if we push it, it will happen. If we don’t, it won’t happen. Obviously we need the others, that goes without saying,” he said.

Other countries in South Asia are looking to India “to make a move” and to “put up the resources”, he said. India’s Neighbourhood First policy is aimed at treating the region differently. “Don’t be reciprocal, you’re the bigger guy, you should be the large-hearted guy, you should be generous,” he said.

As part of efforts to overcome the damage done by Partition, India is focused on building up connectivity through roads, bridges, tunnels, waterways and energy links. Noting that India had come forward to help Sri Lanka cope with an economic crisis, he said India is now perceived as a “lifting tide which is able to lift the entire neighbourhood”.

“We are among the least connected regions of the world and we are losing out because of that. The Prime Minister is absolutely determined to transform this and he ranks it very high in his priorities,” Jaishankar said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to change India’s image and engage with the leadership of West Asian countries had helped deal with the fallout of controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammed by two former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokespersons, he said.

“When we asserted that what was said did not reflect the views of the party…and many of (the countries) took it up with ambassadors (and) the ambassadors pointed that out. I think they accepted that,” he said. A lot of the West Asians had said that ‘we regret what was said and we have also noted what…the BJP has clarified’,” he added.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here