India’s erratic approach towards Pak, China

Iqbal Khan

PRIME Minster Narendra Modi had promised to be tough with these two countries during his electoral campaign. However, due to prudent India policies of China and Pakistan, carrying forth of his electoral promise is not an easy proposition for Modi. Nevertheless, there are potent fault lines, which come handy to keep the Modi’s comic-prudent mix foreign policy circus functional to appease the hardliner followers. It is in this context that Modi has taken an erratic stance with regard to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is purely an infrastructure related project to facilitate regional trade even though India has been asked that it could join the project if it so wishes. India routinely engages in diluting the bilateral treaties with these two neighbours and supports separatist and terrorist elements.
Pakistan-India talks on Indus Water Treaty (IWT) may be around the corner. Indian government has disowned a private bill by an independent parliamentarian seeking to declare Pakistan a terrorist state; and a bilateral agreement to exchange information to reduce chances of nuclear accidents has been extended for another five years India-Pakistan bilateral pendulum may appear edging back to normalcy—at least for time being. However, India is simultaneously keeping the tender box in tact should electoral dynamics in state elections raise the necessity of Pak-China bashing. For example, India has asked China to drop its objections on declaring a Pakistani cleric Masood Azhar a terrorist.
After Narendra Modi’s the tall talk of unilaterally withdrawing from the ITW, a meeting is likely to take place at the Permanent Indus Commission level. Such a meeting was scheduled to take place last year but India suspended its happening after attack on of its Uri military base located the Uri in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), home to one of the longest insurgency of contemporary world order. Now PM Modi has reconciled to restart this bilateral dialogue, thanks to World Bank’s urging, which is underwriter of treaty.
Pakistan and India have agreed to extend their bilateral agreement on “Reducing the Risk from Accidents Relating to Nuclear Weapons” till 2022. Agreement was reached in 2007, and was later extended for a period of five years in 2012.Thisagreement is a part of nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) agreed between the two countries aimed at promoting a stable strategic environment of peace and security. Such measures indicate that both sides are responsible nuclear states. This agreement envisages immediate exchange of information in case of any accident relating to nuclear weapons, which could create the risk of radioactive fallout, or create the risk of an outbreak of a nuclear war. “In accordance with Article 8 of the Agreement … both countries have agreed to extend the agreement for a further period of five years,” a statement issued by India’s foreign ministry read.
An independent member of India’s upper house of parliament has Rajeev Chandrasekhar introduced a private member’s bill to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. Bill seeks to impose legal, economic and travel sanctions on citizens of countries which promote terror. While presenting the Bill, he said, “For decades, India and other countries in the region have been victims of terror attacks from organizations and individuals based in and with support of elements in Pakistan. … It is time that we stop running to other countries to declare Pakistan a terror state and stood up and did this job ourselves.” However Indian government would oppose the bill. Home ministry has communicated its intent as such a move would jeopardizes international relations under the Geneva Convention. “We have diplomatic relations with neighbouring country which includes High Commissions as well as trade relations. It will be not prudent to declare any country as a terror state as India is bound by international norms,” said a senior government official.
Notwithstanding, at the same time, Indian Home Minister Raajnath has called arrest of Hafiz Saeed as sham and eye-wash and unacceptable. He has accused Pakistan for non-seriousness and demanded handing over of Hafiz Saeed to India. Pakistan’s foreign office aptly reacted to this development: “Indian attempts to play victim would have credibility if Indian allegations were not motivated by desire to malign Pakistan and India’s own record was clean… Confessions of Kulbhushan Yadav and Swami Aseemanand are a manifestation of that fact. Pakistan is fighting terrorism like no other country has done. India needs introspection”.
In an illogical statement Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar, during recent bilateral talks with China stated that “burden of proof in Azhar case not on us”.By saying so Jaishankar was trying to counter argue China’s demand for “solid evidence“ against Masood Azhar, saying the “burden of proof “ was not on India as Jaishe-Muhammed chief ‘s actions were well documented. He said India had overwhelming support from the international community for Azhar to be sanctioned by UN Security Council’s 1267 committee, and that Beijing’s may be a minority voice… The burden of proof is not on India”.
If the burden of proof is not on India, then India should take a back seat and let the matter take its due course through the well-established international procedures and practices. As long as India continues to spearhead the issue, it can’t escape the responsibility of coming forward with irrefutable evidence. Another reason cited by China for stopping the UNSC committee from censuring the Jaish chief is what it describes as a lack of consensus in the committee. To this, Jaishankar said, “There isn’t a consensus because China hasn’t joined it”.
Moreover, China has indicated that it was not yet ready to significantly change its stance on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), but said it has an “open approach”. Chinese officials said “there are still issues of procedure and processes” that needed “further clarification and discussion” because of which they were “not in a position to bring it to a definite conclusion”. The issue with India’s approach towards NSG expansion is that it wants to gatecrash NSG through a country specific criteria. India wants to enter the NSG while ensuring that Pakistan is kept out despite latter’s better credentials.
During the meeting the Chinese strongly side raised the issue of President Pranab Mukherjee inviting the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, to President House, who heads a separatist movement in Tibbet. Indian officials sheepishly tried to defend the action by stating that the event was not political, and that Dalai Lama was one of the Nobel Laureates invited to discuss a social issue. India’s Pakistan and China policies are based on opportunism rather than statesmanship. A quality change in India’s relationship with these two neighbours could only come about when India transforms its expediency drive day to day erratic actions with a long term prudence, backed by political will.
—The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.
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