Modi emerged as star performer on world stage in 2014

Modi emerged as star performer on world stage in 2014

Emergence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a star performer on the world stage was the highlight of Indian foreign policy during 2014 which was described by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as truly a "Year of Breakthrough Diplomacy".

Modi's diplomatic outreach was evident the moment he took over as Prime Minister with the leaders of SAARC countries attending his swearing-in ceremony. His visit, thereafter, to the US, Japan and seven other countries confirmed his status as major global figure.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were among his special guests but relations between the two neighbours actually soured later over ceasefire violations, that country's involvement with Kashmiri separatists and kid glove treatment given to key conspirators of Mumbai terror attacks in Pakistan.

Pakistan will remain a challenge for Modi government's diplomacy in the year ahead with experts maintaining that Islamabad will only talk about the dialogue with India but will not do anything "spectacular" to make it happen.

"I don't expect any spectacular engagement of Pakistan with India even though that country will keep talking about dialogue. They will not act against terror groups like Jaish and Lashker and we need to keep a watch on the ground," former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy said.

"Pakistan will remain a challenge given its internal political dynamics and role of its military in the foreign policy," he added when asked the reasons for Pakistan's particular approach towards India.

He also talked about the increasing involvement of Pakistan with Afghanistan, a strategically important neighbour of India and vulnerable in terms of security situation after the withdrawal of combat NATO troops.

While Pakistan will remain a challenge, India also has to trade carefully while dealing with China, whose President Xi Jinping was yet another high-profile guests of Modi while the Chinese troops carried out incursions in Chumar sector of Ladakh.

Summing up the Modi government's diplomacy in 2014, Swaraj said, revitalising traditional ties, re-setting strategic relations and reaching out to Indians abroad have been primary to India's diplomatic efforts.

Noting government's 'neighbourhood first' policy, Swaraj said India was in forefront of helping its neighbours- be it Maldives which faced a grave water crisis or 'Made in India' defence exports to Nepal.

"They are all a reflection of our government's vision of India's shared future as an integral part of a peaceful, secure and prosperous comity of nations in South Asia, and the world beyond," she said.

Modi's summit level engagements with strategic partners like the US and Russia with major substantive outcomes, were a major part of our diplomatic success story of the past six months, the minister noted.

However, Swaraj expressed concern over the fate of Indians held hostage in strife-torn Iraq.

"As 2014 draws to an end, the uncertainty about the fate of 39 Indians in Iraq continues to weigh deeply on all of us. Our efforts will continue unabated," she said.

The government was also involved in rescue mission for Indian citizens in Libya, Iraq and Lugansk in Ukraine since it took over in May.

"Over the past six months, we have successfully secured the release of more than 550 Indian fishermen from the Sri Lankan jails," the External Affairs Minister said in her foreword for an e-booklet highlighting ministry's initiatives.

"2014 has truly been a Year of Breakthrough Diplomacy. India's star is today shining ever brighter on the global firmament...

"With 'Diplomacy for Development' as the overarching theme of our global engagements in 2015, we will pursue the vision of a Rising India, with new vigour and even greater resolve," she added.

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