THE United States and India signed an agreement on August 28 governing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and re-supply – a step toward building defence ties to counter China. After the agreement, India is riding the fresh wave of American powered hubris. Replying to a question on this issue, the spokesperson of Pakistan foreign office stated: “Pakistan is carefully monitoring the evolving regional and global situation and would make course correction in its foreign policy as and when required”.
Since Narendra Modi’s assumption of Prime Minister’s office, Indian political leadership has been behaving with heightened arrogance. Now Indian bureaucracy has also begun to copy the style. Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bombawale was quite a normal person when he arrived in Pakistan. He was assigned to Pakistan in the wake of India’s false flag operation—attack on IAF station Pathankot – to malign Pakistan, and runaway from Foreign Secretary level talks.
Initial impressions suggested that he was a calm and professional guy, who would work towards reduction of bilateral tensions. Probably, Bombawale has also taken a teaspoon full of the newfound “Ugly American” category arrogance inducing intoxicant whose full bottle was consumed by Modi before his August 15 speech. Bombawale – near accurate translation: a bomb owner/ carrier – tried to live by his name by exploding a diplomatic suicide bomb, nonetheless a dud one.
High Commissioner transgressed his diplomatic status by making silly remarks that tantamount to gross interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan. He tried to belittle the host country by saying that his country wanted to see “a moderate and prosperous Pakistan, which is stable and at peace with itself and neighbours” – implying that Pakistan was neither moderate nor prosperous and was a loggerhead domestically and with its neighbours. Like his leadership, he is also playing clowns these days – behaving like an Indian Viceroy thrust to adjudicate Pakistanis and shape-up their behaviour.
High Commissioner’s utterances were silly. May be Gautam is dying for accruing a persona non grata stigma, for, it would sell well to Modi, and he may become Foreign Secretary – dream appointment for any career diplomat, and provide acasus belli for Modi to walk away from SAARC Summit. A seasoned Gautam should understand that his Prime Minster could back track under American pressure and show-up for SAARC Summit, even though behaving like grim groom during the proceedings. But Gautam would stand consumed and discarded. Excellency! If you are looking for persona non grata status, wait until after SAARC Summit, then repeat the same remarks and, in all likelihood, our foreign office will not disappoint you. For now a demarche’ is the highest you could hope for.
Yes, one understands that CPEC is paining India and the US a lot. On silly pretexts, America has slashed its monetary supplies to Pakistan by over 30 percent since the CPEC took off, it will continue doing such things until CPEC becomes operational, and thereafter live with it happily. But India is not America. For its own survival, India needs to integrate with CPEC. Gimmicks like propping up Chabahar as a spoiler is a non-starter for many reasons two major ones are: First, it’s operational capacities like number of jetties and ship handling dead weight tonnage are barely one tenth of Gwader; Second, Iranians are India’s fierce competitors for influence in Central Asia; and they know how to safeguard their interests.
During G-20 summit in China, Modi made oblique reference to Pakistan and called it the “single nation spreading agents of terror”. Responding to a question on this, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson responded very aptly: “Yes! Indian intelligence agency RAW’s officer, Kulbhushan Yadav’s public confession makes a clear reference to that country in South Asia”.
Modi also accused China of “rewarding” terrorists. He also raised CPEC related concerns with Chinese President and was rebuked, yet once again. Indian opposition to CPEC is motivated by two wishful desires: to block progress of Pakistan and contain China – both non-starters. Both Pakistan and China are firmly committed to implement the project and who would know better than Modi as to what Chinese determination means. The opening ceremony of Gwadar Port Free Zone has already been performed. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rightly said in his speech that Gwadar has a favourable geographical and natural advantage. Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong said that the construction of Gwadar Port is not only an important project of CPEC but also a symbol of long-term friendship between China and Pakistan.
While this was happening in Gwadar, the Americans were commemorating Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti by bringing together a bunch on angry Pakistanis like Hussein Haqqani, Arif Jamal, Ahmar Masti Khan alongside Peter Gray Tatchell and the like. Around 30 persons attended. Speeches mostly revolved around blaming Pakistan for everything. One participant, Tariq Gilani, confronted Hussein Haqqani by labelling him anti Pakistan and pro-India and suggested that with these views, Haqqani should not have been Pakistan’s ambassador to the US. This degenerated into below the belt exchanges and stopped by others when there were signs that Haqqani could go physical against Tariq Gilani. Flopped event was a part of Indian efforts to support and substantiate Modi’s statement on Balochistan.
Back home, Modi received a serious jolt as all five prominent Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders declined to talk to his all-party delegation. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmad Shah and Prof Ghani Bhat told members of the delegation, which tried to meet them individually, that they would never talk to any delegation in the framework of the Indian Constitution! By meeting them separately, India tried to sow seeds of discord among them but failed miserably, as all of them conveyed that they can talk only collectively and not in isolation, and that over six-decade long struggle of Kashmiris is not meant to seek solutions under Indian subjugation. Kashmiris have been waging this struggle for their right to self-determination.
There is no improvement in the ground situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), as occupation forces are killing and maiming people under the umbrella of curfew; and a complete ban is in place on media. During his forthcoming address to UNGA, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will also highlight the increased brutalities of the Indian security forces against the innocent Kashmiris peacefully demanding implementation of UNSC resolutions about their right of self-determination. So Mr Bombawale! Keep exploding duds in Islamabad alongside your leadership’s futile campaign to scuttle CPEC and subjugate Kashmiris.
— The writer is consultant to IPRI on policy and strategic response.