At The Helm Of Foreign Policies… (Part II)
After winning the Parliamentary Elections comprehensively for the consecutive second term), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handed over the charge of his Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a seasoned diplomat. Dr Jaishankar is not a politician… his success as former Foreign Secretary of India has prompted PM Modi to appoint the career diplomat as the External Affairs Minister. The move was unexpected and surprising, but a calculative one!
Immediately after taking charge of the MEA, Dr Jaishankar has once again proved his mettle by stating that he would be concentrating on the neighbouring countries, first! He has also hinted that India would adopt ‘Liberal’ policies for its neighbours in South Asia. The 64-year-old Foreign Policy Expert recently told the local media in New Delhi that he would try to create an atmosphere in the region so that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Afghanistan could indulge in broader co-operation. Dr Jaishankar also made it clear that he was not interested in weighing ties with neighbouring countries on the basis of gain-and-loss. According to the diplomat-turned-politician, India’s Economic Development should help other South Asian Nations make a steady (economic) progress, and, therefore, his primary concern is to boost the connectivity in the region!
Indeed, this is a timely realisation, and we should appreciate Dr Jaishankar’s initiative… it is a fact that countries in South Asia are still not connected enough even in the era of Globalisation. They have no other option, but to explore newer avenues to boost ‘bilateral‘, as well as ‘multilateral‘ ties, in order to ensure a steady progress! According to the newly appointed External Affairs Minister, India may require incentives in order to strengthen the inter-state ties in some cases, but the new Government should not over-negotiate with any country…
Dr Jaishankar deserves ‘praise’ for expressing such a view at a time when the contemporary world has turned out more and more confined to Ultra-Nationalism! He has sent a strong message to the Global Community that India is all set to adopt more Liberal Foreign Policies in the coming days.
It is to be noted that the External Affairs Minister has stressed on the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) in this regard. BIMSTEC is an International Organisation of seven nations of South Asia, and South East Asia (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan), housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined GDP of USD 3.5 trillion (2018)… Dr Jaishankar is of the opinion that PM Modi has given a big boost to this regional platform by inviting BIMSTEC leaders to attend his swearing in ceremony. The Minister plans to encourage the Member Countries of BIMSTEC to revive their ties, as the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) – a Regional Intergovernmental Organisation and Geopolitical Union of States in South Asia – has failed to deliver in recent times for various reasons! He has (indirectly) admitted that the deteriorating ties between India and Pakistan will not allow the SAARC to taste success in near future. He believes that Pakistan’s absence in BIMSTEC will make it easier for India to come closer to the neighbouring countries through this platform!
This is an unpleasant, yet undeniable reality, and, we are bound to accept it! Dr Jaishankar has rightly realised that only ‘Constructive Diplomacy’ could help India maintain close ties with its neighbours, bypassing the tension with Pakistan (especially on the issue of terror)! At the same time, New Delhi will have to repair its relations with Islamabad. In the last five years, the Kashmir issue and the issue of terror have rocked the Indo-Pak ties. The ties between the two belligerent neighbours have deteriorated further since the 17th Parliamentary Polls in India (held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, 2019). The person in charge of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is aware of the fact that it will be a real challenge for him to normalise ties with Pakistan. All we can hope is that Dr Jaishankar will concentrate on this job and ensure its success, and if it is not possible to normalise ties with Pakistan at a multilateral level, he should make an attempt at bilateral level, as the future of South Asia depends a lot on Indo-Pak relations!
In a different mood
It is not impossible for a seasoned diplomat, like Dr Jaishankar, to overcome this challenge, nevertheless it certainly is a difficult one…
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