‘SAARC Has Problems’ Claims Foreign Minister Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar without naming Pakistan, said SAARC has certain problems that all are aware of. He also assured that Indians around the world will be assisted, taking forward the work and social media outreach of initiatives taken by Smt Sushma Swaraj.

“Today Indians abroad expect the government will help them. This has changed the image of the foreign ministry,” he said at a seminar here, giving credit to former foreign minister Smt Sushma Swaraj.

Speaking about both groups, he said other than cross border terrorism, SAARC also had trade and connectivity issues. In BIMSTEC, however, India saw clarity in terms of energy and mindset. “India’s prime responsibility is to lift up it’s neighbours in the sense that our growth can be a lifting tide for our neighbours. We are the largest economy (in South Asia),” he said.

The foreign minister also emphasised on the meaning of nationalism in Asia versus that in other parts of the world. “Nationalism in Asia is one of confidence, while nationalism as a concept has been validated in several parts of the world in terms of electoral mandate and there are various reasons for it,” he said.

Shri Jaishankar further said that a large majority of people in India have recognised that the country’s stature in the world has risen in the last five years. He said a “global rebalancing” is taking place and the “sharpest manifestation” of that is the rise of China and to an extent, the rise of India as well.

The former foreign secretary took part in the event days after taking charge of the ministry, a rare instance of a career diplomat handling the key portfolio as a minister. “A large majority of people in India recognised that India’s stature in the world has risen in the last five years,” Shri Jaishankar said.

He said the government has kept alive and perhaps even strengthened expectation of change in India. The government looks different from outside than from inside, Jaishankar, who served as foreign secretary from 2015-18 said. “We can build a closer region through regional connectivity projects,” he added.

“If we want to propel economic growth, then there is greater responsibility for Indian foreign policy to focus on external aspect of it,” the minister said. There is big responsibility on the External Affairs Ministry to focus on project execution which has strategic significance, he added.

Noting that there had been a re-balance in global order owing to China’s rise and also that of India, he said there were many who felt India’s standing on the world platform had gone up. “Foreign policy has made a huge difference,” he added.

The new EAM also talked about the election results which gave the Bhartiya Janata Party a resounding 303 seats and brought back Narendra Modi as Prime Minister for a second time. Calling it a vote of confidence, he added it was associated with the confidence that people had in terms of security and foreign policy too.