New Delhi :
India on Monday slammed Pakistan's "hugely damaging" approach of "blocking" every possible regional initiative in SAARC, saying it will force countries of the region to look for other options like BIMSTEC.
Severely critical of Islamabad's approach towards SAARC, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, without taking Pakistan's name, said some basic standards of regional cooperation have to apply and that bulk of the member countries want to go ahead with regional initiatives. Referring to China-Pakistan ties, he said some issues arising out of the relationship were causing concern forIndia, including the economic corridor Beijing was constructing through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
Delivering a talk on 'India and the Great Powers:Continuity and Change', the Foreign Secretary said there was no need for involvement of any third country for resolution of issues between India and Pakistan saying it will give rise to illusion and expectations. If you have an umpire, the game loses natural balance, he said.
Touching upon a variety contemporary issues, Jaishankar,who has just returned from Washington, said it will be interesting to see how President-elect Donald Trump goes about his foreign policy, adding expecting no change will be an understatement.
On SAARC, he said India has immense interests in the grouping and improvement in connectivity and regional cooperation will help the entire region including Asia, even as he noted that the approach to block initiatives has been "hugely damaging". Pakistan had blocked a key regional connectivity pact during SAARC's last summit in Kathmandu besides some other initiatives. "Problem with SAARC is that some basic sort of standards of regional cooperation have to apply. If you say that I willbe regional member but I will not allow regional trade, I will not allow regional connectivity, will not allow regional motorways, I will not allow regional railways, than what is itabout. "You cannot be a member of a region and block everypossible regional initiative and still say I am goood member.That sort of approach has to change," Jaishankar said. He said bulk of the members of the SAARC want to go aheadwith regional initiatives and that "if SAARC does not providethem an answer, they will settle for sub-regional initiativesand will look at other initiatives like BIMSTEC (Bay of BengalInitiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and EconomicCooperation).