Washington: India-Pakistan ties can “truly scale great heights” if Pakistan removes the “self-imposed” obstacle of terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as he asked Islamabad to play its part by putting a complete stop to any kind of support to terrorism – “whether state or non-state”.
“In my view, our ties can truly scale great heights once Pakistan removes the self-imposed obstacle of terrorism in the path of our relationship.
“We are ready to take the first step, but the path to peace is a two-way street,” Modi told the Wall Street Journal, in comments posted on its website on Friday.
He said he has always maintained that instead of fighting with each other, India and Pakistan should together fight against poverty.
“Naturally we expect Pakistan to play its part,” he said.
“But, there can be no compromise on terrorism. It can only be stopped if all support to terrorism, whether state or non-state, is completely stopped.
“Pakistan’s failure to take effective action in punishing the perpetrators of terror attacks limits the forward progress in our ties,” said the Prime Minister.
Modi said his government’s proactive agenda for a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood began from the very first day of his government.
“I have said that the future that I wish for India is the future that I dream for my neighbours. My visit to Lahore was a clear projection of this belief,” he said.
Ruling out a change in India’s decades-old policy of non-alignment, Modi said that despite the border dispute, there have been no clashes with China, pointing out the “new way” in today’s “interdependent world” unlike the last century.
“There is no reason to change India’s non-alignment policy that is a legacy and has been in place. But this is true that today, unlike before, India is not standing in a corner. It is the world’s largest democracy and fastest growing economy.
“We are acutely conscious of our responsibilities both in the region and internationally,” he said.
Modi’s significant comment on India’s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which many now also prefer to call as strategic autonomy, came in response to a question on China’s assertiveness.
“The US is very keen on India, the rising power that India is, to be part of, if not an alliance, then at least a grouping that can stand up to some extent to China. Where do you see India taking a position on the global stage?” he was asked.
“We don’t have any fighting with China today. We have a boundary dispute, but there is no tension or clashes. People-to-people contacts have increased. Trade has increased. Chinese investment in India has gone up. India’s investment in China has grown,” Modi said.
“Despite the border dispute, there haven’t been any clashes. Not one bullet has been fired in 30 years,” he said.
“So the general impression that exists, that’s not the reality,” Modi said on India’s ties with China.
Modi appeared to be appreciative of China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative.
“We feel that the world needs to hear more from China on this initiative, especially its intent and objective,” he said.
With a 7,500 kilometre-long coastline, India has a natural and immediate interest in the developments in the Indo-Pacific region, he said, adding that India has excellent relationships with the littoral states of the Indian Ocean.
“India is a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region. We, therefore, watch very carefully any developments that have implications for peace and stability in this region,” he noted.
Talking about India’s ties with the US, Modi said many of the values between the two countries match.
“Our friendship has endured, be it a Republican government or a Democratic. It is true that Obama and I have a special friendship, a special wavelength,” he said ahead of his travel to the US next month – his fourth visit to the country after becoming the Prime Minister.
“Beyond our bilateral relationship, whether it is global warming or terrorism, we have similar thoughts, so we work together.
“But India doesn’t make its policies in reference to a third country. Nor should it,” Modi said.
He said India and the US have enjoyed a warm relationship, regardless of whether America has a Republican or Democratic administration.
“During the last two years, President Obama and I have led the momentum; we are capturing the true strength and scale of our strategic, political and economic opportunities, and people to people ties. Our ties have gone beyond the Beltway and beyond South Block,” he said.
“Our concerns and threats overlap. We have a growing partnership to address common global challenges viz. terrorism, cyber security and global warming. We also have a robust and growing defence cooperation. Our aim to go beyond a buyer-seller relationship towards a strong investment and manufacturing partnership,” he added.
Modi said unlike the last century, when the world was divided into two camps, this is not true anymore.