Among the factors that will determine India’s future security and prosperity will be the future of India’s neighbourhood and our relationships in the region, said Satinder Kumar Lambah, prime minister’s special envoy on Afghanistan.
The senior diplomat was delivering fifth R N Kao memorial lecture. Kao is founder of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), country’s external intelligence agency. “India’s own position on the global stage and its capacity to influence the direction of the world at large will depend both on our own evolution and how we manage the neighbourhood,” Lambah said.
He said neither confrontation nor the collusion between major powers, whether between the US and China is in India’s interest. Lambah argued for closer integration in the region, India taking more proactive approach towards neighbours. “We must make offers to our neighbours, which they cannot refuse,” he said. He said several prime ministers have tried to push India’s neighbourhood policy beyond the beaten path. “Many vital decisions have been taken by prime ministers overriding recommendations and suggestions made to them.”
Lambah said the prime minister had stated a vision to make the boundary between India and Pakistan irrelevant, but it’s now Pakistan’s turn to act. “The sense of cynicism about dialogue with Pakistan is understandable especially when those responsible for Mumbai ballast roam freely. But not engaging a neighbour with 180 million people, strong antagonism towards India, a growing nuclear weapons arsenal and worsening instability is not a wise choice.”
On Nepal, Lambah said India’s focus should be to intensify economic support through greater access for Nepal to the Indian market along with enhanced investments and development assistance. He also suggested more emphasise on tourism, Bollywood and soft power.