Pune (Maharashtra) [India], January 28 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that just as the Pandavas could not choose their relatives, India cannot choose its geographical neighbours.
"It is a reality to us....Pandavas could not choose relatives, we can't choose our neighbours. Naturally, we hope good sense prevails" said EAM Jaishankar when asked if "a neighbour and rogue nation (Pakistan), who happens to be nuclear power, will be an asset or a liability."
Jaishankar was in Pune for the release of his English book "The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World," which has been translated into Marathi as 'Bharat Marg'.
The Marathi version of Jaishankar's book was released by Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis.
When asked about the economic situation in Pakistan, Jaishankar said that he cannot comment on what is happening in Pakistan.
The World Bank has slashed Pakistan's economic growth by half -- from 4 per cent to 2 per cent for the current fiscal year, saying Islamabad faces mounting economic difficulties, reported The News International.
"Nonetheless, Pakistan faces mounting economic difficulties and Sri Lanka remains in crisis. In all regions, improvements in living standards over the half-decade to 2024 are expected to be slower than from 2010-19," read the World Bank in Global Economic Prospects report.
Pakistan's economic condition is precarious with low foreign exchange reserves and large fiscal and current account deficits that have been further worsened by severe flooding.
About one-third of the country's land area was affected, damaging infrastructure, and directly affecting about 15 per cent of the population, reported The News International.
Moreover, with low foreign exchange reserves and rising sovereign risk, Pakistan saw its currency depreciate by 14 per cent between June and December and its country risk premium rise by 15 percentage points over this same period.
Amid this Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government has agreed to meet all conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the early resumption of the next review.
Sharif on January 24 said that Pakistan's ruling PDM alliance is ready to sacrifice its "political career for the sake of the country" by accepting IMF's "stringent" conditions to revive the loan programme.
Reports reveal that over 9,000 containers are stuck at different Pakistani seaports, threatening to disrupt the supply chains of essential goods. Inflation in the country has risen to almost 30 per cent. The country's funds are running low and food prices are increasing.
According to Islam Khabar, importers are unable to clear containers due to a shortage of dollars, while shipping companies are threatening to suspend Pakistan's operations over the country's failure to make timely payments. This will negatively impact both imports and exports.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has only USD 4.4 billion in forex reserves, barely enough for three weeks of imports, while the estimated needs to clear the containers and pending requests for opening more letters of credit is in the range of USD 1.5 billion to USD 2 billion, according to the Islam Khabar report.
Businesses in Pakistan are at risk of closure due to a breakdown of supply chains as domestically manufactured goods rely on imported raw materials. The textile industry in Pakistan is also in a critical position as it is losing credibility and market share among international buyers.
Hospitals in the country are running short of medicines, and there may soon be shortages of goods such as wheat, fertilizers, and gasoline.
Prime Minister Sharif has thus asked people to conserve resources such as water, gas, and electricity to assist the government in reducing its import bill, which has risen significantly in recent years.
Jaishankar also said that the Indus Waters Treaty is a technical matter and future course of action will depend on talks between the Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan.
"This is a technical matter, Indus Commissioners of both countries will talk about the Indus Water Treaty. We can only discuss our future steps after that," he said.
India issued notice to Pakistan for modification of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) of September 1960 after Islamabad's actions adversely impinged the provisions of the treaty.
The notice was conveyed on January 25 through respective Commissioners for Indus Waters as per Article XII (3) of the IWT.
The objective of the notice for modification is to provide Pakistan with an opportunity to enter into intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days to rectify the material breach of the IWT. This process would also update IWT to incorporate the lessons learned over the last 62 years.
India has always been a responsible partner in implementing the IWT. Pakistan's actions, however, have encroached on the provisions of IWT and their implementation and forced India to issue an appropriate notice for modification of IWT.
Highlighting sea-change in India's foreign policy, Jaishankar said that the country's influence has reached beyond the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking at the publication ceremony of the book "Bharat Marg" written by Jaishankar, he said, "Nowadays India's influence has reached beyond the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, this is why I speak on history, big countries always think only about themselves, this is a deficiency in their DNA." (ANI)