» News » US will surely understand: Jaishankar on S-400 deal

US will surely understand: Jaishankar on S-400 deal

By Lalit K Jha
October 02, 2019 08:19 IST
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IMAGE: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a conversation at US-India Strategic Partnership Forum in Washington, DC on Tuesday. Photograph: Courtesy @DrSJaishankar/Twitter

India has apprised the Donald Trump Administration of its decision to purchase S-400 S-400 missile system from Russia, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Washington, DC on Tuesday, exuding confidence that the Americans would appreciate its rational.

"India has made a decision on the S-400 and we have discussed that with the United States government. I am reasonably convinced of the powers of my persuasion (sic)," Jaishankar said, responding to a question from a Russian journalist on the possibilities of US sanctions on India under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) as it goes ahead with its decision to purchase S-400 Triumph missile defence system from the Russia.


"It would be my hope that people understand why this particular transaction is important for us, so I think of your question to me is hypothetical," Jaishankar said, during his appearance at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington DC-based top American think tank.

'Pak's 70-yr plans will collapse once growth starts in J&K'

Once India triggers development in Jammu and Kashmir, all of Pakistan's plan for the last 70 years against the state would come to a naught, Jaishankar said.

The minister also pointed out to the Washington audience that the current suspension of the mobile network in the Kashmir valley is aimed at preventing the misuse of internet and social media for radicalising and mobilising anti-Indian forces and to ensure that no loss of life occurs during the transition to the development phase.

"There are reactions out there. There are vested interests built over 70 years. There are local vested interest. There are vested interest across the border," said Jaishankar, conceding that 'there would be transitional risks when one changes the status quo on anything in a very substantial way and there will be reactions'.

"(But), if we actually manage to get development going in Jammu and Kashmir, do understand, that everything that the Pakistanis have planned for the last 70 years comes to naught," he added.

The external affairs minister sounded similar to what Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik had said last month.

"If we are able to take Jammu and Kashmir to the path of development, which is very much possible, the day is not far when the PoK residents, facing worst situation under the occupation of Pakistan, will race towards us on their own to be part of India," Malik had said, taking a dig at Pakistan premier Imran Khan for asking Pakistan-occupied Kashmir people to wait for his signal to march towards the Line of Control.

"We know nobody is going to come here at his (Khan's) instance," Malik had said.

The poser to the minister pertained to the recent changes made by India in the constitutional provisions for Jammu and Kashmir, and the risks involved.

"Therefore, that's not something they're going to let that happen easily. So our challenge today is actually to sort of ensure that this works on the ground.

"And to do that, the beginning is to prevent loss of life and then the changes are made," the minister said.

Many of the restrictions which have been imposed are precautions to ensure there is no loss of life, he said, adding these are common sense precautions.

"There is a lot of experience which has gone into that precaution. If you look at the events in 2016, for example, we saw how the internet and social media was used to radicalise and to mobilise," he said.

"So obviously, if you're going to walk into this situation, you are not going to let the internet be used by people whose intentions are malevolent.

"I'm not minimising the challenges, but I think the intent is really to persevere and to make sure that there are enough changes on the ground so that people's thinking also change accordingly," Jaishankar said.

Earlier in his address the minister said for many years, India sought a solution while Pakistan was comfortable with continuing the cross-border terrorism.

"The choice as this government came back to power was clear. Either we had more of the past policies and the prospect of further radicalization. Or we had a decisive change in the landscape and a change of direction towards de-radicalisation," he said.

"The economic costs of the status quo were visible in the absence of entrepreneurship and shortage of job opportunities.

"The social costs were even starker: in discrimination against women, in lack of protection for juveniles, in the refusal to apply affirmative action and in denial of the right to information, education and work," he said.

"All this added up to security costs as the resulting disaffection fed separatism and fuelled a neighbour's terrorism. At a broader level, these realities also contradicted our commitment that no region, no community and no faith would be left behind," he said.

"The legislative changes made this summer put India and the entire region on the road to long-term peace. That is the reality today in the making," Jaishankar said.

'World increasingly becoming multipolar'

The 21st century world is increasingly becoming multipolar and is unlikely to return to bipolarity, Jaishankar said, predicting that a strategic appreciation of the emerging global landscape would bring India and the US closer.

Preparing for a more competitive and complex era will require a different mindset and for a nation like India, it would be in addition to changes induced by its climb up the global power hierarchy, Jaishankar said in a major foreign policy speech 'Preparing for a Different Era'.

As a broad approach, it will lead to the primacy of long-term thinking over short-term calculations, he said, adding it would encourage undertaking deep structural changes and ambitious socio-economic initiatives that can transform both habits and attitudes.

"In this world, what are presumed to be intractable challenges will have to be addressed, not ducked," he said, citing recent changes in Jammu and Kashmir as an example to this approach.

Emphasising upon the emergence of a multipolar global scenario, Jaishankar said it is difficult 'foresee a return to a bipolar' world, even amid the sharpening contradictions between China and the West.

It is because the landscape has now changed irreversibly, he noted.

"Other nations are independently on the move, including India. Half of the twenty largest economies of the world are non-western now. Diffusion of technology and demographic differentials will also contribute to the broader spread of influence.

"We see the forces at play that reflect the relative primacy of local equations when the global construct is less overbearing," he said.

The minister traced the phenomena of emerging global multipolarity to origin the space yielded by the West.

"The reality is that the space yielded by the West has been filled by many players, not just China. Furthermore, both the US and China have a use for third parties and the politics of the day will now drive multipolarity even faster," Jaishankar said.

Considered as India's foremost strategic thinker, Jaishankar said the beneficiaries of the phenomena will be the G20 powers and those of that level. Powers like Russia, France and United Kingdom having prior advantages will get a fresh impetus, he added.

"Some like India can aspire to an improved position. Others like Germany would increase their weight through collective endeavours,: said Jaishankar.

"But it will also be a world of a Brazil or a Japan, of a Turkey or an Iran, a Saudi Arabia or an Australia, each having a greater say in their vicinity and perhaps, even beyond. The dilution of alliance discipline will only further facilitate this process," he said.

The top Indian diplomat said the emerging global multipolar order will have a complex architecture with its own merit.

"What will emerge is a more complex architecture, characterized by different degrees of competition, convergence and coordination. It will be like playing Chinese Checkers with many more participants, but who are still arguing over the rules," said Jaishankar.

But he also listed the risks.

"A multipolar world that is intensely competitive and driven by balance of power is not without its risks. Europe, with its World War experiences, is especially chary. Even dominant powers favour such balancing only as a specific solution and not as a general approach. For that reason, international relations envisage collective security as a safety net," he said.

Even if that does not always work, broader consensus through wider consultations would function as Plan B, he said adding: "Those most unsettled at the prospect of multipolarity with weaker rules are the nations that have long functioned in the comfort of an alliance construct."

Unlike for the historically independent players, it is understandably difficult for them to accept that the compulsions of inter-dependence are a good enough substitute, he said.

"Others may contemplate this prospect with greater nervousness, but an India perhaps with a sense of opportunity as well. An individualistic world means that the entrenched order is more open to newer players. Long-standing group positions may become less rigid.

"That the format of play is also more bilateral strengthens the inclination to make accommodations," he said.

"This has been more in evidence in the security domain, especially maritime cooperation, counter-terrorism or in export controls. Whether it is the Indo-US nuclear deal, the partnership in Afghanistan or the Malabar Exercise, they reflect a departure from the old group-think to a more contemporary pragmatism.

"It could now extend to be the economic domain as well," Jaishankar said.

According to Jaishankar, as the world moved in the direction of greater pluralism, pragmatic result-oriented cooperation has begun looking attractive. India today has emerged as a leader among such multilateral groups, because it occupies both the hedging and the emerging space at the same time, said Jaishankar.

An ability to reconcile its security interests with its political and developmental ones allows it great maneuvering space, he said, adding: "The different era is one of focused agreements, specific agendas, flexible arrangements and greater customization. Comfort is the new commitment."

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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