External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the Union government’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir have a “national security connotation, and emphasised the existence of the “epicenter of global terrorism” in India’s neighbourhood.
“Even the changes that were approved last month by Parliament in respect of Jammu and Kashmir, while driven by needs of governance and development, have a national security connotation,” Jaishankar said, delivering a lecture at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs in Finland. “One factor in the mandate that our government received recently was confidence among our people in our ability to safeguard national security,” he said, adding that “we know that the epicentre of global terrorism is…in our neighbourhood”.
India, he said, “lives in a tough neighbourhood and faces more than its fair share of national security challenges”, with cross-border terrorism being the “most prominent among them”. He said it has cost “more than 40,000 lives in the last three decades”.
India is “opposed to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believe there is no justification for it, whatsoever”, he said, but “it is not just enough to have a position”. When any polity “that is sincerely committed to the welfare of its people” is subjected to terrorist attacks, it will “surely respond” and that is “precisely what we have done in recent years”.
He added that even as India takes “responsive measures, our belief is that this is not just a concern for one country but for the entire international community”. Though, “sadly, past neglect has come to haunt many distant regions of the world” and therefore it is “vital that various aspects of this challenge —- including radicalisation, financing and state-sponsorship —- are addressed by all of us together”.
Shifting his focus to India’s growth as a significant player in Asia vis-à-vis China, Jaishankar said that India believes that “a multi-polar world must have a multi-polar Asia as its prerequisite”. It is “critical”, he stressed, that “the rising powers like India and China find a stable equilibrium among themselves as much as with the rest of the continent”. He laid emphasis on “nations desirous of playing a greater role in international affairs – like Japan – be encouraged to do so” and said that ASEAN, “the consensus-builder of Asia”, must “maintain its centrality and cohesion”.
The European Union had on Wednesday expressed concern about the situation in J&K and “restrictions on fundamental freedoms”. Finland is the current chair of the EU.