New York, Sep 25 : External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has issued a warning to Islamabad to eschew terrorism before any bilateral dialogue could commence.
"Pakistan has to understand that, in this day and age, it cannot continue to use terrorism as a tool of its foreign policy,” Jaishankar told a gathering at the Asia Society here on Tuesday. Former prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd, who is currently with the New York-based Asia Society, moderated the discussion.
Asked whether the recent decision made by New Delhi of abrogating Article 370 would trigger instability in South Asia, Jaishankar replied in the negative. “Our option was: Do we do more of the same, or do we try something different?” he said on Kashmir. “We opted for something different.” The minister pointed out that the article was meant to be “temporary” and countered Rudd, “Does the word temporary mean 70 years?”
According to him, the provision was exploited by Pakistan to carry out “cross-border terrorism.” Writing in the Financial Times, published yesterday, Jaishankar pointed out, “The earlier provision created a cosy arrangement of local ownerships that served the state’s political elite well. But it denied economic opportunities and social gains for the masses. The resulting separatist sentiments in some quarters were then exploited by neighboring Pakistan.” The relevant constitutional amendment was passed by both houses of parliament with a larger consensus, he noted in the op-ed article in the London-based newspaper.
At the Asia Society discussion, the diplomat-turned-politician detailed the Modi government’s efforts at addressing the wider socioeconomic and political challenges to develop India. The issues focused included gender discrimination, climate change and river pollution, digital access, skillsets and manufacturing.
On “sustainable development,” the minister narrated the government measures such as ensuring 300 million new bank accounts, expanding microfinance which is now used by 75% of women entrepreneurs, providing cooking gas to nearly 100 million households and offering more opportunities to girls’ education, as well as sanitation.
“Modi is a harbinger of change,” he said. “People looked at his record as the chief minister of Gujarat.” On climate change and environment issues, the minister said that single-use bags and other plastic materials have been banned and noted, “there is a big attitudinal shift in India” and that was made possible by the Modi government.
Rudd, who has visited India several times, also asked Jaishankar about Howdy Modi, the Houston meeting organized by Indian-Americans. He answered saying, it is a tribute to the community, which is “one of the key pillars of our relationship.”
On bilateral trade, which is fast approaching the 200 billion dollar mark annually, Jaishankar said: “The issue [unlike the Sino-American] is much more manageable. We agree on something, if not everything.” (UNI)