Hope ‘minus one’ too comes around some day: Dr J
New Delhi: In an obvious reference to Pakistan, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Friday that India’s neighbourhood, “minus one”, had been a “fairly good story” for regional cooperation.
Addressing the India Economic Summit in New Delhi, Jaishankar said, “I would say that the entire neighbourhood, minus one, has actually been a fairly good story of regional cooperation. Minus one is not forever. I’d hope some day, even the minus one comes around. I always remain hopeful. I’m not unrealistic. They have a mindset issue that they have to overcome.”
He further said, “You put Kashmir aside for a moment... Today, with everybody else, trade, business, connectivity and contacts are increasing. Surely, at some stage, that would have an impact because you would see everybody else prospering with that cooperation.”
In a conversation with World Economic Forum chief Borge Brende, Jaishankar said India had a very good story to tell about its relationships in the neighbourhood, “minus one”. Explaining India’s neighbourhood policy, he said, “The Indian subcontinent is among the least regionalised economies. PM Narendra Modi feels we need to do something about this and the Indian economy is a lifting tide for this.”
The abrogation of Article 370 did come up in his meetings during the recent US visit, he added. Making nationalism an acceptable position, Jaishankar said there was no doubt the world had become more nationalistic, and a lot of that was economic nationalism and cultural nationalism. In India’s case, nationalism was not a negative sentiment directed at the world, he said. “India is an exception as we are more nationalistic, but at the same time, we don’t see a tension between being nationalistic and being international in the sense of engaging more with the world... so nationalism is not a negative sentiment,” he added.
Acknowledging that he had spoken extensively on the decision on Article 370 in the US, Jaishankar said, “That is natural for many people when there is a change of status.” He elaborated on the background, history, “why we did what we did” and asserted that a lot of it was new to the people he discussed the matter with. “Hardly anybody had the realisation that this was a temporary article in the Constitution or the misalignment due to the fact that a lot of national laws did not apply in J&K,” he said.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar at the India Economic Summit, 2019, in New Delhi on Friday