Underlining that India alone cannot walk the path of peace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday urged Pakistan to “walk away from terror” if it wants resumption of bilateral dialogue. Ties between the two countries have hit rock bottom in the wake of attacks by Pakistan-based terror outfits which prompted India to carry out surgical strikes along the Line of Control.
On relations with China, the Prime Minister said it was not unnatural for two large neighbours to have some differences but both sides should show sensitivity and respect for each other’s core concerns and interests — Beijing has stalled New Delhi’s entry to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and put a technical hold on India’s application to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar banned by the United Nations.
WATCH| World Needs India’s Sustained Rise As Much As India Needs The World
Flagging India’s top diplomatic challenges as he delivered the inaugural address at the second edition of the Raisina Dialogue, a three-day conference in the Capital, Modi referred to his telephone conversation with US President-elect Donald Trump and how they agreed to “keep building on these gains in our strategic partnership”.
But it was on Pakistan that he expressed his sense of disappointment: “My vision for our neighbourhood puts premium on peaceful and harmonious ties with entire South Asia. That vision had led me to invite leaders of all SAARC nations, including Pakistan, for my swearing-in. For this vision, I had also travelled to Lahore. But, India alone cannot walk the path of peace. It also has to be Pakistan’s journey to make. Pakistan must walk away from terror if it wants to walk towards dialogue with India.”
“Our strong belief in delinking terrorism from religion, and rejecting artificial distinctions between good and bad terrorism, are now a global talking point. And, those in our neighbourhood who support violence, perpetrate hatred, and export terror stand isolated and ignored,” he said.
“In our engagement with China, as President Xi and I agreed, we have sought to tap the vast area of commercial and business opportunities in the relationship. I see the development of India and China as an unprecedented opportunity, for our two countries and for the whole world. At the same time, it is not unnatural for two large neighbouring powers to have some differences. In the management of our relationship, and for peace and progress in the region, both our countries need to show sensitivity and respect for each other’s core concerns and interests.”
Modi’s thrust on India’s ties with China was apparent as he focused on the conference theme ‘Multilateralism with Multipolarity’.
“Prevailing wisdom tells us that this century belongs to Asia. The sharpest trajectory of change is happening in Asia. There are large and vibrant pools of progress and prosperity that spread across the landscape of this region. But, rising ambition and rivalries are generating visible stress points. The steady increase in military power, resources and wealth in the Asia-Pacific has raised the stakes for its security.
Therefore, the security architecture in the region must be open, transparent, balanced and inclusive. And, promote dialogue and predictable behavior rooted in international norms and respect for sovereignty,” he said, in an oblique reference to China’s muscular foreign policy.
“The political and military power is diffused and distributed The multi-polarity of the world, and an increasingly multi-polar Asia, is a dominant fact today. And, we welcome it. Because, it captures the reality of the rise of many nations. It accepts that voices of many, not views of a few should shape the global agenda. Therefore, we need to guard against any instinct or inclination that promotes exclusion, especially in Asia,” he said.
And in words that were perceived as a signal for the incoming US administration, Modi said, “For multiple reasons and at multiple levels, the world is going through profound changes. Globally connected societies, digital opportunities, technology shifts, knowledge boom and innovation are leading the march of humanity. But sluggish growth and economic volatility are also a sobering fact. Physical borders may be less relevant in this age of bits and bytes. But, walls within nations, a sentiment against trade and migration, and rising parochial and protectionist attitudes across the globe are also a stark statistic. The result: globalisation gains are at risk and economic gains are no longer easy to come by.”
At the conference organised jointly by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation, Modi underlined that India’s transformation is not separated from its external context. He outlined his government’s strategic pillars: “We inhabit a strategically complex environment. In the broad sweep of history, the changing world is not necessarily a new situation. The crucial question is how do nations act in a situation where the frames of reference are shifting rapidly. Our choices and actions are based on the strength of our national power.”
“Our strategic intent is shaped by our civilisational ethos of realism, co-existence, cooperation and partnership… This finds expression in a clear and responsible articulation of our national interests,” he said.
“The world needs India’s sustained rise, as much as India needs the world. Our desire to change our country has an indivisible link with the external world. It is, therefore, only natural that India’s choices at home and our international priorities form part of a seamless continuum… Firmly anchored in India’s transformational goals,” he said, adding that “Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas is not just a vision for India. It is a belief for the whole world.”