Minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar on Sunday in Bhopal said the world is becoming aware of the dangers of extremist forces and terrorism and that was why countries like Pakistan were finding themselves isolated.
He said such forces were posing the greatest challenge before the world since the World War 2. However, he said ultimately the world order will move towards a shared prosperity with inequality acting as a delaying factor.
Akbar said this while delivering a lecture on Role of India in the evolving global order in Bhopal. The lecture was organised by the MP IAS officers Association.
Akbar said a great challenge and opportunity for the county’s foreign policy was India’s pivotal presence in Asia in the 21st century.
“What happens in our subcontinent shapes Asia and what happens in Asia will shape the world. I know this with certainty that this century will be determined by how Asia takes charge of itself and shapes economy and culture. It will be the prevailing power,” he said.
Akbar said one of the most important challenges which defined modern nationalism was the freedom from poverty. “What has it to do with foreign policy? A great deal. Because it defines the national interest. If I am deputed by the system then national objective is the prosperity of the country, not just prosperity of the few but that of the people at the bottom as well,” he said.
He said there could be no prosperity without peace. “But most conflicts globally have been generated by the dangerous idea that faith can be the basis of nationalism, in particular in the context of Pakistan that Islam can be the basis of nationalism. If Islam had been sufficient for unity there would have been no Shia-Sunni conflict. If Islam had been sufficient for political unity, why would there have there have been 22 Arab countries,” he said.
Talking about equality of faith, he said India simply didn’t have faith equality. It had something more powerful, it had ‘audible faith equality’.
“It means that azaan has been heard in India for 1,400 years. The oldest mosques in history were set up in Kerala. From time immemorial, our civilization has accepted space for the other without challenging, without intrusion, without being pompous about it. Our civilizational behaviour has been quite a miracle,” he said.
Recalling the controversy over intolerance, Akbar said he spoke about it in Parliament. “Where do you want to live and find this tolerance. The day you can hear azaan in Washington or London , come back and discuss this with me.”