New Delhi [India], June 10 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built on India's strategic partnership with countries in West Asia “very actively and very robustly” and the ties today with the region are “best possible”, Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian envoy to UAE has said.
Ahmad, who also served as India’s envoy in Saudi Arabia and Oman, told ANI in an interview that India’s bilateral ties with the countries in the region now span frontier areas of high technology, information technology and space and “there is no limit to how far we can go in terms of giving content to our relations”.
The former Ambassador said India’s ties with West Asian countries have grown since the end of the cold war.
He said a shift took place following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks after which India and West Asian countries embraced a strategic partnership with security, defence and intelligence as key components.
"After the cold war, the political relationship also became resonant. And that has continued. And after the attacks in Mumbai, after 2008, you can frankly say that we have a substantial strategic partnership that embraces security, defence, intelligence, economic and cultural cooperation," he told ANI.
"I think today, we can say that we have the best possible relations. The region is the principal source of energy and our principal economic partner. In fact, we have very substantial trade relations. Also, ties are based on investment and joint ventures. And above all, we have the presence of our community, 8.5 million strong. It is a very, very strong and substantial relationship that we have today," he added.
Elaborating on the work done by successive governments to foster the crucial relationship, he said high-level bilateral visits during the Modi government have raised the profile and content of the relationship.
"During the Manmohan Singh government, you could say we moved from energy relations to a strategic partnership. PM Modi built on the strategic partnership very actively and very robustly. He gave priority to ties with the region. He personally visited the region, several times. He invited the leaders to come to India. You can see over a period of time that each visit raised the profile and content of relations to another level. Today, we have institutionalised the basis for dialogue," he said.
"We have dialogue at the prime minister level, at the level of national security advisor, and at the diplomatic level. We have a special platform for economic cooperation, discussion etc. Yes, we can say that we have taken the relations forward very significantly. We are looking at defence cooperation as a very important part of our future relationship," he added.
The former envoy pointed out how India is closely cooperating with the region in counterterrorism and the ties in this area have grown significantly.
"So, you can say that, in the last seven or eight years, our relationship has gone into areas where it had not gone before. Now, we are looking at frontier areas of high technology, information technology, and cyber technology and even with regard to space."
"There is no limit to how far we can go in terms of giving content to our relations. We have retained the traditional ties of supplying foodstuff, and textiles but we are exploring high technology areas as well," he added.
The former ambassador also referred to some Gulf countries lodging protest over remarks of suspended BJP spokesperson on Prophet Mohammad and said countries “who wish India ill will try to take advantage of the situation”. He said there was a need to prevent any situation that can impact India's soft power image abroad.
The government has made it clear that the controversial remarks and tweets do not reflect its views. The government also said it had been conveyed to India’s interlocutors that “action has been taken by concerned quarters against those who made the comments and tweets."
Answering a question related to comments by Pakistan which were slammed by India, Ahmad said the neighbouring country would try to diminish India's stature but would not succeed.
"Pakistan has such a poor image globally and is associated with extraordinary violence and extremism. And it's a very dysfunctional political order at home. I am not saying that they are going to be successful. I doubt it very much. They don’t have any credibility, certainly not in the Islamic world and gulf," he said. (ANI)