NEW DELHI: Flagging the issue of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, India on Friday said the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has "suffered" because of "one nation" that continues to give problems.
Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, during his address at the annual session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce here, also asserted that a "greater engagement" with China is happening, as one cannot stay in a "state of perpetual enmity or seeming enmity".
"The SAARC has suffered because of one nation, and that nation continues to give problems... You cannot indulge in terror against countries with whom you want to take the grouping forward," he said in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
"Therefore, the SAARC has suffered despite the secretariat being there, and all the mechanisms existing. Because of this one nation, with whom a couple of other nations cannot get together. Therefore, it will take a little time to even out, to look at it," Singh said.
The SAARC is the regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia.
Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
On Thursday, in a veiled attack on Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York told a meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers that the scourge of terrorism remains the single largest threat to peace and stability in the South Asian region and it is necessary to eliminate the ecosystem of its support.
India had boycotted the 2016 SAARC summit citing Islamabad's unrelenting support to terrorist activities in India and after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Indian Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had also joined India in boycotting the summit.
Union minister Singh made his address during a session on 'India's strategic approach towards neighbouring countries: challenges and way forward".
He said, BIMSTEC, on the other hand is "thriving" and getting better, getting more attention, because there is no such problem there.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia. Its member states are -- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
On relationship with China, he said, India has "consciously taken a decision that China needs to be engaged, you cannot stay in a state of perpetual enmity, or seeming enmity".
"Therefore, a greater engagement has taken place in manners that were not thought of earlier. So, who would have thought of the unofficial summit at Wuhan, where the Chinese President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sat together without any agenda, taking things forward from there," he said.
The minister said India's economic engagement with China has "increased" and similarly, China's engagement with India has increased.
"And, that is the way forward, where you can have people-to-people contacts, better understanding, and can have economics dictating how relations will pan out in the future," he said.
On the land boundary with China, Singh said, its a "complex issue" for many reasons.
"There is history to it, egos to it, many things to it. That needs to be settled when the atmosphere can be made conducive, and that is what is being attempted with the greater engagement with China," he said.
The minister earlier in his speech also highlighted the nature of ties India now enjoys with other neighbours, including Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, Sri Lanks and Bangladesh.
With Bhutan India has "excellent relationships", strategic and otherwise, he said.
"Relationships with Myanmar were slightly wavering at a particular period of time where we toed a particular line, propogated by people who did not know Myanmar... Today, it firmly believes its best friend is India," Singh said.
On ASEAN ties, he said, "We are firmly plugged into various calculations for ASEAN. We have a much deeper understanding of them and they have a much deeper understanding of us. Ten heads of states from ASEAN attended the Republic Day celebrations in India."
"Our resolve to break the barriers and reach out in manners, which were not feasible earlier," he said.