Connectivity an act of trust, India reminds China and Pakistan | India News

NEW DELHI: In a fairly direct reference to China’s BRI initiative, foreign minister S Jaishankar said on Friday that connectivity efforts must be based on economic viability and financial responsibility and should promote economic activity and not create debt burdens.
While the comment was seen as a dig at China’s BRI — with several African and Asian nations smarting from the downside of Chinese largesse — Jaishankar also reminded Pakistan that connectivity cannot be a one-way street. As Pakistan PM Imran Khan claimed that the “unsettled dispute” over J&K was blocking connectivity initiatives, Jaishankar said the real issues were of mindsets, not of disputes.
Jaishankar was speaking at a south and central Asia connectivity summit in Uzbekistan that was attended also by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistan PM Imran Khan and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.
“Blocking connectivity in practice while professing support in principle benefits no one. A one-sided view of trade rights and obligations can never work,” he said, adding that India’s operationalisation of the Chabahar port in Iran has provided a “secure, viable and unhindered access” to the sea for central Asian countries.
Jaishankar said building connectivity was an act of trust and must, at the minimum, conform to international law. “Respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity are the most basic principles of international relations,” he said, adding that connectivity must be consultative, transparent and participatory. India has repeatedly said that China’s CPEC undermines India’s sovereignty as it passes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region.
“Economic growth is universally driven by 3Cs: connectivity, commerce and contacts. All three need to come together to ensure regional cooperation and prosperity. The challenge we face is that politics, vested interests and instability can be formidable impediments to its realisation,” said Jaishankar.
The minister said for reliable connectivity within and through Afghanistan, the world must have confidence in its governance.
Jaishankar described as a welcome development the formation of the India-Uzbekistan-Iran-Afghanistan Quadrilateral working group on the joint use of Chabahar port. He said India has proposed to include the Chabahar port in the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor — a 7,200-km-long transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, central Asia and Europe.



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