We should look at South Asia minus Pakistan: BJP’s foreign cell head
The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal plan was mooted after Pakistan consistently put roadblocks to SAARC connectivity efforts.india Updated: Mar 17, 2018 22:00 IST
India should strive for South Asian economic integration without Pakistan, the BJP’s foreign policy cell chief Vijay Chauthaiwale said on Saturday, adding that the ruling party is under no ideological compulsion to mend ways with the neighbour which uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary responded by saying that keeping Pakistan out of South Asian integration plans would amount to accepting defeat that “we don’t know how to deal with a neighbour”.
Chauthaiwale, Saran along with former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and Shaurya Doval, a director of India Foundation, was participating in a panel discussion on India’s Place in the World: Opportunities and Challenges’, at a conclave organised by Network 18.
To a question from chair of the session Zakka Jacob on regional economic integration of South Asia, when the member countries “cannot even agree to hold a summit”, Chauthaiwale said: “We should look at South Asia minus Pakistan. The other countries and larger economies in the region are willing.”
He also mentioned about India giving more emphasis on BIMSTEC, a grouping of Bay of Bengal countries, and sub-regional initiatives such as BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) connectivity plans. The BBIN plan was mooted after Pakistan consistently put roadblocks to SAARC connectivity efforts.
That Pakistan slows down the SAARC process is something India has been stressing on and the constant strain in their bilateral ties hasn’t helped the grouping either.
“There is a new awakening in South Asia; a new recognition of inter-linked destinies; and, a new belief in shared opportunities.The bonds will flow. Through SAARC or outside it. Among us all or some of us”, Prime Minister Narenda Modi had said at the 2014 SAARC summit.
Doval said Pakistan remains a problem spot in South Asian regional integration plans and India should work with others who are willing to partake in the economic development of the region.
Rao said that “eternal vigil’ is the answer to Pakistan sponsored terrorism and India should also improve its internal security measures.