The new EAM has his task cut out, for several challenges await him, the foremost being India’s troubled relations with Pakistan.
New Delhi: Former foreign secretary S. Jaishankar was on Friday appointed India’s external affairs minister (EAM) and assumed office in the evening succeeding Sushma Swaraj who had on Thursday been left out of the Cabinet of the Modi government in its second term in office. The new EAM has his task cut out, for several challenges await him, the foremost being India’s troubled relations with Pakistan.
The two countries were on the brink of war — after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 — when India launched air-strikes on February 26 against a JeM terror camp at Balakot in Pakistan’s KPK province.
Significantly, Mr Modi is expected to come face to face with Pakistan PM Imran Khan at the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan on June 13 and 14. New Delhi will, therefore, need to devise a strategy on how to deal with Pakistan.
On China, Mr Jaishankar — a former envoy to Beijing — will be expected to undertake preparatory work at top levels for the second informal summit between Mr Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping that is expected to take place in India in October this year. Ties between the two Asian giants improved considerably after the first informal summit between the two leaders in Wuhan in China last year.
Mr Jaishankar’s contribution to close ties with the United States is also expected to stand him in good stead when India negotiates with the United States on various issues.