Virtually dismissing the idea of helping Pakistan to come out of its economic mess, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that he would consider local public sentiment while making a big decision and will take into account what his people feel about it. Pakistan is grappling with an economic crisis and has not been successful in getting an agreement from multilateral institutions either.
"I would have a pulse (on) what do my people feel about it. And I think you know the answer," Jaishankar was quoted as saying by news agency PTI at the annual Asia Economic Dialogue organised by the external affairs ministry in Pune.
While India has helped neighbors like Sri Lanka as it struggled to come out of its economic troubles and regularly helps others in the neighborhood as well, Jaishankar said that the fundamental issue impacting the New Delhi-Islamabad ties is terrorism, and one must not be in denial of this problem.
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"No country is ever going to come out of a difficult situation and become a prosperous power if its basic industry is terrorism. Just as a country has to fix its economic issues, a country has to fix its political issues too, a country has to fix its social issues," he added, without naming Pakistan.
Jaishankar also made it clear that it is in nobody's interest to see a country get into severe economic difficulties, and that too a neighbor. Once a country is in the throes of a serious economic problem, it has to make policy choices to get out of it. The world can only provide options and support systems, Jaishankar said, making it clear that Pakistan will have to make "tough choices".
He said India has also undergone the same challenges several times in its modern history, with the last one being 30 years ago with the balance of payment crisis.
The foreign minister also said that ever since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, the country's approach to the neighboring countries has undergone a perceptible change and also reminded all about the Prime Minister's decision to call heads of state for the swearing-in function to start a new relationship.
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Citing the case of Maldives, he said India's help in the recent past includes the Greater Male project and also added that he was present at the foundation stone laying event a few weeks ago. India is also buying or selling power with many of its neighbors, Mr Jaishankar said, adding that it recently started buying power from Nepal. Going forward, the country is also mulling to up its focus on education and healthcare spending in the neighborhood, Mr Jaishankar said.
He also assured that India will be using its G-20 presidency to give a voice to the problems of the 'global south' and asserted that India is the best-placed country to do that. The prime minister and his top ministers have spoken to 125 countries in the past month in India's effort to be an effective voice of the global south, Jaishankar said.