External affairs minister S Jaishankar at the Deccan Dialogue.(PTI)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar at the Deccan Dialogue.(PTI)

India shaped debate on need for transparency in connectivity projects: Jaishankar

Jaishankar described Pakistan as a “particularly egregious example of state sponsored cross-border terrorism” and called for a comprehensive global convention to counter the menace
By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 16, 2020 02:52 PM IST

In an indirect reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Monday that India had shaped the debate on the need for transparency and respect for territorial integrity while implementing connectivity projects.

Jaishankar described Pakistan as a “particularly egregious example of state sponsored cross-border terrorism” and called for a comprehensive global convention to counter the menace while speaking on the theme “Crisis and cooperation: Imperative in the times of pandemic” at the external affairs ministry’s Deccan Dialogue.

He pointed to terrorism, pandemics and climate change as the “more existential aspects of globalisation” that will have to be factored into debates about international cooperation and the opening up of countries in future.

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“On connectivity, we have actually shaped the debate on the merits of transparency, market viability, environmental friendliness and respect for territorial integrity. And in many parts of the world, ranging from Africa to the Caribbean to the South Pacific, we have helped to strengthen capabilities, offered training and spread best practices,” Jaishankar said without naming China.

“These traits in India’s foreign policy outlook will only be stronger in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic,” he said.

India is one of the main holdouts to BRI, which is facing growing criticism for pushing countries, including those in the neighbourhood, towards debt traps. India has also said Beijing’s connectivity initiative gives greater advantages to Chinese companies.

“As regards terrorism, the era of ‘not my problem’ came to an end in 9/11 but it is still to produce a whole-hearted international collaborative effort,” Jaishankar said, adding India’s goal remains a comprehensive convention on terror.

“We have in our immediate neighbourhood a particularly egregious example of state sponsored cross-border terrorism. The world is gradually becoming aware of the global nature of international terrorism. Our relentless efforts have kept it in the spotlight, bringing out related aspects like terror finance, radicalisation and cyber recruitment,” he said.

India’s efforts have led to a larger awareness of terrorism’s different facets and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has “become a more important forum and black money is today firmly on the agenda of the G20”, he added.

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, the immediate focus is on economic recovery and there is greater global awareness about more resilient supply chains. It is up to India to exploit this sentiment for additional growth as the crisis has brought out the importance of international cooperation, he said.

While the world has become more multi-polar and rebalancing has gone beyond economic facets, an architecture with more variables requires better rules, and India must steer the debate towards greater international cooperation at a time when “current institutions are rigid and vested interests are really strong”, Jaishankar said.

“In the interim, therefore, we have to look for practical solutions, including ad hoc groups of nations willing to cooperate on selected issues,” he said.

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