BISHKEK (TCA) — Security, stability and prosperity of Central Asia is imperative for peace and economic development in India and the region has been a priority area of interest for Indian policymakers, Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West) at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said in her address to participants in the Fourth India-Central Asia Dialogue which took place in New Delhi on December 1 and 2.
The event brought together diplomats, scholars and experts on Central Asia to discuss ways to boost multilateral cooperation, and was organized by the Ministry of External Affairs of India and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
The first such Dialogue was held in Kyrgyzstan in 2012. The second and third Dialogues were organized in Kazakhstan in 2013 and in Tajikistan in 2014. “These three editions of the Dialogue chalked out an ambitious and comprehensive plan of India-Central Asia engagement. This fourth Dialogue in Delhi is an occasion to review progress and update the agenda and explore and add new ideas for the future,” Sujata Mehta said.
She spoke about the challenges facing Central Asia. “The situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, which shares a border with three Central Asian countries, is yet to stabilize. Drug trafficking and associated criminal activities have been a bane for the people of this region. The rise of Da’esh has added another dimension to extremism and militancy in the region. Reports suggest that those from Central Asia who have gone to fight for Da’esh are likely to return to their roots to pursue their sinister agenda back home; there are already signs of Da’esh fighters joining, coordinating and launching terrorist attacks having returned battle-hardened and indoctrinated. The challenge for our Central Asian partners is to act to ensure that moderate views of assimilation and accommodation prevail amidst an onslaught of extremism,” the Indian official said.
She also spoke about economic cooperation between Central Asia and India. “The Central Asian Republics are endowed with huge hydrocarbon resources, significant mineral deposits, extensive hydro power potential and vast stretches of arable lands. There is great potential to create regional economic corridors and networks of roads, railways, energy grids and of market integration, all of which requires cooperative endeavour. Through such efforts and through outward linkages of these networks and corridors beyond the region, we could create enduring and mutually beneficial arrangements.”