External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has dismissed the apprehensions raised by China over the formation of Quad, saying the four-nation grouping was not a rigid or formal arrangement and its agenda was made up responding to the needs of the times.
“I think it’s very important not to be sort of railroaded into some kind of negative discourse, which actually is not from our script, it is somebody else’s script. And I don’t think we should fall for that. I think we need to be positive, all of us have a fundamental right to cooperate with partners, I think it’s important that others should not have a veto on our choices. It’s part of democratic world order,” he said while speaking at the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) Annual Leadership Summit.
Jaishankar said the Quad was not against somebody. “If you look at the Quad statement, the Quad statement actually says that it says, we are for rule of law, we are for freedom of overflight, we are for peaceful resolution of disputes, we are for democratic values, we are for the territorial integrity of states.”
His comments are considered important since China has time and again stated that the Quad was a ‘small clique’ aimed at countering Beijing.
On how the world should deal with the rise of China, the Indian minister said this was a bilateral choice that each nation has to make. “We each have a very substantial relationship with China. And, in many ways, China being today is such a big player and so salient in the international economy, I think it’s natural that these relationships are quite unique. So, what are my problems, or my opportunities would not be the same as that for the United States, or Australia, or Japan, or Indonesia or France. It would be different for each country.”
On the recent developments in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban, Jaishankar said there were many areas of concern, especially if the government there was inclusive, the rights of women, children and minorities were being respected and whether Afghanistan would not allow its territory to be used to sponsor terrorism against other countries.
He agreed that India and the US were on a similar page at the principle level on many of the issues concerning Afghanistan like the usage of Afghan soil for terrorism. There were also disagreements in some respects. “We have been victims of cross-border terrorism ourselves from that region. And let us say that has shaped in many ways our view of some of the neighbours of Afghanistan. So now, how much the US shares that view, and where is it that the US sort of makes its tactical compromises… I think that is for the Americans to figure out,” he added.