‘There’s larger concern’: EAM S Jaishankar on situation with China, Pakistan
Jaishankar defended India’s position on the Ukraine conflict and the country’s relationship with Russia
China cannot say India didn’t adhere to bilateral agreements on border management because there is evidence that the Chinese side was the first to move troops to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), external affairs minister S Jaishankar has said.
The tense situation in the border areas is solely due to the fact that China has not observed the agreements on border management, Jaishankar said in an interview with Austrian public broadcaster ORF on Monday. The minister was speaking at the conclusion of the two-nation tour to Cyprus and Austria.
Responding to a question on whether he believes China could militarily intervene in Taiwan, Jaishankar replied: “There’s a larger concern, which is based on our experiences. The concern is that we had agreements with China not to amass forces in our border areas and they have not observed those agreements, which is why we have the currently tense situation that we do.”
He rejected an assertion by the interviewer that Beijing too could say New Delhi hadn’t adhered to the agreements and said it would be “difficult for China to say that [because] the record is very clear.”
Referring to transparency in an era of satellite images, Jaishankar said: “If you see who moved the forces to the border areas first, I think the record is very clear. So, it’s very difficult for China to say what you suggested they could.”
He added, “My experience is that written agreements were not observed, that we have seen levels of military pressure which in our view has no justification.” Despite agreements on not unilaterally altering the LAC, the Chinese side has “tried to unilaterally do that”.
Jaishankar defended India’s position on the Ukraine conflict and the country’s relationship with Russia, saying New Delhi clearly wants an end to hostilities and the resumption of diplomacy and dialogue. “Where we are concerned, we have always taken the position that the way out is for the countries concerned to get back to dialogue and diplomacy,” he said.
India has been very clear that this conflict is not in anybody’s interest, including Russia’s, and New Delhi makes foreign policy decisions on the basis of “long-term interests and what is good for the world”, he added.
Referring to what he said were “many instances” of countries violating the sovereignty of others, Jaishankar said: “If I were to ask where Europe stood on a lot of those, I’m afraid I’ll get a long silence.”
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Jaishankar said it is important to look at the history of India’s long-term relationship with Russia, which was “built in a period when Western democracies used to arm a military dictatorship called Pakistan and deny India defensive weapons.”
He also defended India’s growing energy imports from Russia, saying Europe had six times as much energy from Russia during the same period. India, with a per capita income of $2,000, is not in a position to pay high prices for oil at a time when European states were diverting supplies from the Middle East and putting pressure on the global oil markets.
“If the European political leadership would like to soften the impact on their population, I think it’s a privilege they should extend to other political leaderships as well,” he said.
Jaishankar further defended his characterisation of Pakistan as the “epicentre of terrorism”, saying, “I could use much harsher words than epicentre. Considering what has been happening to us, I think epicentre is a very diplomatic word because this is a country which has attacked the Parliament of India some years ago [and] the city of Mumbai...which every day sends terrorists across the border.”
Asked if the world should be concerned about a war between India and Pakistan, he replied: “I think the world has to be concerned that there is terrorism going on and the world often looks away.” The world should address the challenge of terrorism and not its consequences, he said.