Building connectivity is an act of trust and it must, at the minimum, conform to laid down laws as respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity are the basic principles of international relations, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at a regional conference in Tashkent on Friday. He said connectivity efforts must be based on economic viability and financial responsibility and they must not create debt burdens, seen as an oblique reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
He said no serious connectivity initiative can ever be a one-way street and the real issues are of “mindsets, not of disputes” as blocking connectivity in practice, professing support in principle benefits no one.
There has been growing global criticism of the BRI as Chinese financing has resulted in rising debt in countries where infrastructure projects under the mega initiative are being implemented.
In his address, Jaishankar said there was a need to address not just physical infrastructure but all its accompanying facets while expanding connectivity between Central Asia and South Asia. The conference on ‘Central and South Asia: Connectivity’ has been hosted by Uzbekistan to boost connectivity between the two regions.
Pak PM Imran Khan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and leaders from 35 countries attended it. Meanwhile, Ghani used the meet to hit out at Pak for the influx of foreign ultras into Afghanistan and failing to do enough to influence the Taliban to engage in peace talks.