Strained ties between India, Pak affecting growth of South Asia: Manmohan Singh

CHANDIGARH: Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said strained ties between India and Pakistan have been coming in the way of development of South Asian region. He also said the 21st century will be the era of rise of China and India and during this period “cooperation and competition” will go hand in hand.

“Strained ties between India and Pakistan have been a major factor in preventing growth of cooperative regional development strategies in South Asia,” Singh said in his 25-minute speech at the conference organized by Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here.

Singh also said that “there will be challenges posed by Pakistan’s current internal situation and the future situation in Afghanistan. Geo-politics of the Indian Ocean region will also be the fulcrum of India’s foreign policy.”

He said that the primary focus of India’s foreign policy has to remain in the realm of economic diplomacy.

Singh said, “In south Asia our attempts to build on our shared heritage and culture have often been impeded by geo-politics and by our failure to overcome the challenge of geographical and economic asymmetry.

“Proximity and connectivity that should have been the foundation of building strong economic linkages to build SAARC as another ASEAN have eluded the nations of south Asia.” he said.

Singh said that scholars of south Asia need to ponder as to why “we in south Asia move so slowly in matters of strengthening trade and infrastructure linkages when the benefits to our people and governments are so obvious?”.

He said that “India is on the threshold of change, provided the right policies are adopted”.

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