Srinagar: Former foreign affairs minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Friday said that the only way forward for India was to restore peace with neighbouring countries including China and Pakistan to prosper and become economically strong.
Speaking at a function in Srinagar, Yashwant Sinha said that India did not enjoy the best of relations with its neighbours, which is why the challenges it faces are growing by the day.
Sinha was speaking at an event, ‘India’s Foreign Policy: Opportunities and Concerns for Next decade’, organised by the Centre for Research & Development Policy (CRDP) as a part of its ‘Kehwa Talk’ series.
“We can’t realise our global aspirations if we have rough relations with our immediate neighbours,” Sinha said. “So we must settle all the disputes with our neighbours. If we bring peace all around us, it will help us to prosper along with our neighbours. It will make us play a bigger role globally.”
Sinha termed the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as a defunct organisation that had failed to solve any issue in the subcontinent.
“SAARC was formed in 1985 and it is 2017 now. I haven’t come across any area where SAARC has made a difference. It has failed to take off,” he said.
While dodging a direct question on Pakistan, Sinha said we should not talk about Pakistan in a hurry as it involved various sensitive issues.
“This is not the first time that there are flash points in our neighbourhood. Peace and tranquility agreements were held in worse times. I am in favour of peace, so we need another discussion to talk about Pakistan because we need to see Pakistan holistically,” he said.
In reply to a question on Pakistan asking why foreign ministers of India always talk bad about Pakistan, Sinha said, “There are many aspects to it. It doesn’t have a short answer. So, let’s leave Pakistan for the time being.”
He said Kashmir enjoys equal opportunity to trade and be part of the global economy.
“There is no restriction on Kashmiris as such to be part of globalisation and do trade across the globe,” he said.
Sinha is leading a group of Concerned Citizens of India on a two-day visit to Kashmir. The group has said it will meet various stakeholders in Kashmir, including mainstream and separatist leaders.