New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on January 28 asserted that India is fully capable of giving a firm response to cross-border terrorism and strikes against terrorist attacks in 2016 and 2019 have demonstrated the nation’s firm resolve to defeat it.
Addressing the inaugural session of 12th South Asian Conference at Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in New Delhi, he reiterated the government’s stand that talks and terror cannot go together and asked Pakistan to take demonstrable steps against terror groups responsible for launching various attacks on India from its soil.
The Minister said that India was engaged in conversations with its neighbour in order to develop joint approaches for regional peace and security. He called upon the member countries of the regional grouping South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to be united in efforts to defeat terrorism and that with the exception of Pakistan, the SAARC countries have adhered to the principles of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and not supporting cross-border terrorism.
Without naming any country, Singh said that full potential of SAARC has not been realized due to the behaviour and policies of a single country and cited how the SAARC motor vehicles agreement was stalled at the last Kathmandu session in 2015.
He said the same country has preferred to use terrorism as a state policy towards India, rather than peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue.
Singh said, use of terror as an instrument of its foreign and security policy has promoted radicalism and terrorism in the region and posed critical challenges to security of all states and stressed on the need of the regional unity and cooperation, adding that India has always harboured the cultural ethos of brotherhood and the traditional knowledge through Vedas, Upanishad has and Puranas have taught the country the strength of unity.
Informing that the Government has committed about US$13.14 billion in credit-lines and about US$4 billion in assistance in the neighbourhood over the last decade, Singh said that India is willing to play a leading and critical role at the development front under Neighbourhood First Policy (NFP), by making resources available to the neighbours to build necessary infrastructure that will enable connectivity and easy flow of region-wide movement of goods, services, people and ideas.
Stating that India regards peace and prosperity in the neighbourhood as critical to its own growth and in its enlightened self-interest, Singh observed that as the largest country in the region, India is mindful of its asymmetric preponderance and the developmental aspirations of its neighbours, and has always made efforts to share its prosperity with its neighbours.
Under the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’, intensified bilateral developmental partnership with countries in the region would create the necessary impulse for regional cooperation in South Asia in the long run, he added.
The South Asia Conference series, which commenced in 2007, plays a key role in bringing together scholars, academicians and officials from India’s neighbouring countries in a common endeavour to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation. It covers a broad array of issues including connectivity, economic, defence and energy cooperation.