The Rohingya refugees staying in Bangladesh and India will have to return to their home state of Rakhine in Myanmar and there is need for a ‘constructive’ approach to deal with the issue, avoiding harsh criticism, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said on Thursday.
“The exodus of a large number of people from Rakhine state to Bangladesh is clearly a matter of concern. Our objective would be to see how they can go back to their place of origin. Clearly that is not easy. We are talking to Bangladesh and separately engaged with Myanmar and we feel that this is a situation better addressed with practical measures and constructive conversation, rather than doing very strong condemnations and having checked the condemnation- box, move to the next issue. There is need for a sober, sensitive and locally sensitive approach in dealing with the humanitarian emergency that the exodus has become,'' he said
Mr. Jaishankar was speaking at a think tank event on prospects of India-Japan cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and Asia-Pacific regions.
He said that both sides were ‘mirror images’ of each other in terms of potentials, and have clear areas of convergence in the Asian humanitarian and strategic architecture.
Mr. Jaishankar brought up ties among connectivity, regional cooperation and humanitarian response to evolving crises. “One of the areas we want to see in the agenda of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is collaboration on the HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) — that, we would like these member countries to start working together on humanitarian assistance to disaster situation. In the last three years, Nepal earthquake relief, (India’s response to) Yemen civil war, Maldivian water crisis, and even the Operation Insaniyat for the displaced people from Rakhine state are part of regional cooperation,” he said.
India’s behaviour in the South Asian and Bay of Bengal regions did not mean that it is a leading power but shows that it is an ‘aspiring leading power’, which has regional responsibilities to shoulder.
In this set-up, he said, India and Japan have common concerns and features that could be synchronised for regional welfare that spreads from the Bay of Bengal to the Asia-Pacific region. The reiteration of India’s position in the Asia-Pacific region indicated India’s willingness to partner the Shinzo Abe government’s desire to transform Japan’s strategic plans in the backdrop of the election victory of Mr. Abe in last week’s polls, he said.
“Japan is economically globalised, but in the security, political, strategic sense that process is yet to be completed. In some ways, Japan is a mirror image of us. As Japan’s own impression of its responsibility becomes sharper, I think there is clear convergence there for everyone to see. The challenge is that we may agree intellectually but the hardwork [for collaboration] will require much deeper economic relation that is happening,” he said, citing the technological collaborations like the bullet train project.
The ambassador of Japan, Kenji Hiramatsu, who was the second speaker at the event, said that security ties, technology exchange and defence cooperation have also emerged as key fronts in recent years that have provided Japan-India ties a strategic platform.