India and United Kingdom have to come together to tackle the long-term effects of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, as it is going to have multi-pronged consequences on both countries. Any instability in the region is going to affect the UK too, and so working on counter-terrorism together is the need of the hour, said British High Commissioner to India H.E. Mr. Alexander Ellis. He was speaking at the Ambassador series virtual address on ‘UK-India Evolution to Transformation’. The session was chaired by Ambassador Mr. Y K Sinha, Chief Information Commissioner of India.
Mr. Ellis and Mr. Sinha discussed how in a fast-paced world full of challenges and turmoils, India and UK inevitably stand out as steadfast partners bound by strong ties of history and culture. It may be recalled that recently, during a virtual meeting between the British Prime Minister Mr. Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi have made a historic commitment to strengthening the relations via the ‘2030 Roadmap’ which will provide a framework for bilateral relations across the health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence. Defence and security ties were highlighted as one of five key ‘pillars’ to elevate the relationship to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership.’
Elaborating further on the Afghanistan problem, H.E. Mr. Ellis said other short-term problems like the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the UK and extending more humanitarian aid to the country need to handle to stabilise the situation a bit. He also referred to the death of 457 British soldiers in Afghanistan. Similarly, organised crime and narcotics trade too need to be tackled at the highest level, he added.
Referring to QUAD, a group of four democracies Australia, India, Japan and the United States, Mr. Ellis said the UK had excellent relations with all member states and the country will closely work with all. He further said the UK has a presence in the Indo-Pacific area and land as well and that they were looking at increasing their footprint more in the next few years. He said the two countries have co-operation in defence and security especially cyber and space security. “We can broaden and deepen our works in the area’, he said. India-UK also has a roadmap for working on high combat aircraft besides collaborating on education with various universities. “We are committed through a roadmap on maritime awareness. We can together do a lot on intellectual property and development and research between the two countries”, he said.
Ambassador Mr. Y K Sinha said India and UK enjoy a symbiotic link with each other that Mr Modi called the living bridge. The Indian diaspora plays an important role in this. He elaborated on the vaccine cooperation between India-UK and said “There have been fantastic examples of cooperation with most prominent being AstraZeneca vaccine, a wonderful example of how we complement each other, clinical trials of various drugs, and consultation with doctors in the national health service of the UK. He praised the political will in India, especially in the investment sector.