Against the backdrop of China’s aggressive behaviour on maritime issues, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Friday, said India stood for a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific and, in an obvious reference to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, emphasised that dialogue was the only civilised mechanism for resolving disputes and disagreements.
A free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific was important for the economic development of not only the region but also the wider global community, he said in his keynote address at the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) in New Delhi.
Rajnath highlighted India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific by quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s famous speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June 2018. ”The Prime Minister had said that India stands for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. He put forth our idea of ASEAN centrality in the region and said that our common prosperity and security require us to evolve, through dialogue, a common rules-based order,” the minister said.
On the conflict in Ukraine, he cited the PM’s resolute message to Russian President Vladimir Putin recently that “the era of war is over”. He noted that the PM’s view was echoed by world leaders in the recent G-20 communique in Bali.
”In the times when humanity is facing problems like climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and widespread deprivation, it is essential that we all work together to surmount these mammoth challenges, without being distracted by the destructive seduction of wars and conflicts,” Rajnath said.
The minister described enhancing trade and connectivity, capacity building and infrastructural initiatives as time-tested ways of working together for countries in the Indo-Pacific.
He reiterated that it has always been India’s endeavour to work with its partners in constructive engagements in the Indo-Pacific region. He shed light on the ‘Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative’ launched during the East Asia Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2019.
Rajnath termed it as a moral responsibility to strive towards building a secure and just world. “In India, our philosophers and visionaries have always dreamt of a human community, transcending political borders. We have always seen security and prosperity as a collective pursuit of the entire humankind, in which there is no possibility of island security or prosperity,” he said.