South Asia-and integrated security zone - Kadirgamar 

[January 9, 2004 - 8.45 GMT] 

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

International Affairs Advisor to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, has said that South Asian countries must show concern for India's security. 

"Each of us must always have an abiding concern for India's security," Kadirgamar told Hindustan Times. 

He said the centrality of India in the South Asian region was an entrenched fact and could not be wished away.

Explaining the concept of the centrality of India, he said that no two South Asian countries would be able to interact directly with each other without touching or crossing Indian land, sea or air space. India, he said, was the only country, which shared borders with other South Asian countries (except the Maldives). 

Also, with each of her neighbours, India has special ties, of ethnicity, language, culture and kinship or of common historical experience. There was shared dependence on vital natural resources, of a character not shared by any two other countries in the region, Kadirgamar said. 

"No other region in the world presents such an integrated security zone. It is unique," Kadirgamar said. 

And given her preponderance and centrality within the region, it would be surprising and wholly illogical if India did not see its security in South Asian regional terms. Any unfriendly, alien influence in any part of the region could quite justifiably be viewed with concern by India, Kadirgamar said. 

He pointed out that besides being central to the region, India was also the most powerful South Asian nation. Perhaps even more significantly, there was no other neighbour equally powerful to countervail India. 

These were facts, which other South Asian nations should not ignore, Kadirgamar said. However, he made it clear that he was not thinking of a one-sided relationship when he pleaded for a recognition of India's centrality and the need to accommodate its national security concerns. 

India, Kadirgamar said, had a special responsibility towards it neighbours, as enunciated by former Indian Foreign Minister IK Gujral, through the "Gujral Doctrine". 

Speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London in 1996, Gujral had said that India did not ask for reciprocity vis-...-vis neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, but gave all that it could in good faith and trust. 

To this Kadirgamar added: "Correspondingly, India's neighbours must reflect India's concerns. Appreciation of India's concept of non-reciprocity or generosity must be expressed and acted upon. More specifically, each of us must always have an abiding concern for India's security." 

Kadirgamar said there was an "increased awareness" that the security of the Indian subcontinent was an "integer" - a whole, a thing complete in itself.






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Last Updated Date: January 09, 2004  -8.45 GMT.


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