NEW DELHI: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday made a veiled attack on Pakistan saying it has been ‘blocking initiatives’ at the SAARC. “SAARC is a body that functions on consensus but one of our neighbours has been blocking the initiatives. Whenever we try to come up with an initiative, one country blocks it,” he said at a webinar organized by the Indian Council for World Affairs.
The foreign secretary, in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s failed attempts to designate four Indian nationals as terrorists by placing them on the UNSC 1267 Sanctions list, said that politicisation of global mechanisms such as the United Nations (UN) and FATF must be avoided.
Asserting that India puts its national interest on priority while seeking Free Trade Agreements (FTA) or Preferential Trade Agreements (PTA), Shringla said New Delhi did not become a part of the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP) as its “national interests were not served”. Whether or not to re-examine the decision is the government’s choice, he added.
The foreign secretary also stressed the importance of neighbouring countries for India. “The term ‘Neighbourhood First’ was not coined lightly. This was evident as leaders of SAARC and BIMSTEC were invited for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two swearing-ins,” he said, addeding that India would like to see its neighbours grow with it. On Nepal, Shringla said despite ups and downs and some decisions taken due to politics, ties with the country will remain strong.