Pakistan has to come forward and shun terrorism to ensure productive talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, stressing that India alone cannot walk the path of peace.
At the second edition of Raisina Dialogue in Delhi where he outlined India’s foreign policy, Modi took a strategic stand on China, considered Pakistan’s all-weather ally, and said ties between the two Asian giants have immense economic opportunities.
“It is not unnatural for two large neighbouring countries to have differences,” he said, close on the heels of the US reconfirming China’s role in blocking India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“In the management of our relationship, and for the peace and progress in the region, both our countries need to show sensitivity and respect for each other’s core concerns and interests.”
Modi said India had never shied away from shouldering the responsibility for international peace, but accused Pakistan of failing in its fight against terrorism.
“Our strong belief in de-linking terrorism from religion and rejecting artificial distinction between good and bad terror are a global talking point now,” Modi said.
“Those in our neighbourhood who support violence, perpetrate hatred and export terror stand isolated and ignored,” he said in a veiled dig at the neighbour.
“I see the rise of India and China as an unprecedented economic 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 difference.”
Relations between India and Pakistan hit a new low in 2016, with New Delhi blaming the attacks in Punjab’s Pathankot and northern Kashmir’s Uri on terrorists from across the border.
Pakistan, for its part, accused Indian forces of using excessive force to crush the dissent that swept the Kashmir Valley in the wake of a militant leader’s death in July.
Also, repeated ceasefire violations along the border claimed soldier and civilian lives on both sides.
In his speech, Modi outlined his vision for peace with South Asian countries. He mentioned Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Maldives, among others, in the same breath, but left out Pakistan.
“My vision for our neighbourhood led me to invite leaders of all SAARC neighbours, including Pakistan, for my swearing-in,” he continued --- before taking a dig at Pakistan.
In his address, Modi gave a run down of India’s foreign policy priorities, security interests in the Indian Ocean and bilateral engagement with neighbouring countries, Gulf nations and major powers including the US and Russia.
Referring to India’s ties with the US, he said a certain amount of speed, substance and strength to the entire spectrum of economic, commercial and security engagements had been brought to the relationship through sustained engagement.
“Over the past two-and-half years, we have given a strong momentum to our engagement with US, Russia, Japan and other major global powers,” he said, delving on India’s external engagement and geo-strategic interests.
Modi said India’s economic and political rise represented a regional and global opportunity of great significance.
He said instability, violence, conflict, extremism, exclusion and transnational threats continued to proliferate in dangerous directions.
“And, non-state actors are significant contributors to the spread of such challenges. Institutions and architectures built for a different world, by a different world, seem outdated. Posing a barrier to effective multilateralism,” he said.
“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.”
The Prime Minister said India’s maritime interests were strategic and significant and that the primary responsibility for peace, prosperity and security in the Indian Ocean rests with those who live in the region.
“Ours is not an exclusive approach. And, we aim to bring countries together on the basis of respect for international law. We believe that respecting Freedom of Navigation and adhering to international norms is essential for peace and economic growth in the larger and inter-linked marine geography of the Indo-Pacific,” he said without naming any country.
Delving on geo-political developments, he said the sharpest trajectory of change is happening in Asia but at the same time added rising ambition and festering 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,” he said.
Modi said his government has redefined, in a short span of time, and “despite uncertainty and conflict”, partnerships with Gulf and West Asia, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Iran.
“We have not just focused on altering the angles of perception. We have also changed the reality of our ties. This has helped us protect and promote our security interests, nurture strong economic and energy ties and advance the material and social welfare of around 8 million Indians,” he said.
The Prime Minister said India was pursuing its transformation in “unsettled times” and talked about sluggish growth and economic volatility.
“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,” he said.
(With agency inputs)