India and the international arena
India’s insatiable desire to “become great” and be acknowledged as the regional hegemon eludes it painfully. This has led to a spate of rather erratic, rash and ill considered policies and decision making by the Modi-Doval duo severely undermining regional stability. Under PM Modi India comes across as a bitter, irritated and frustrated country, cross with itself and the region (read Pakistan) for somehow stunting its ambitions of self professed greatness!
India’s compulsive desire to subordinate all regional countries to its national interests has been stymied by nuclear Pakistan’s adamant refusal to be cowed down, its multi dimensional coercive policies towards it notwithstanding. Coercion alone, though, has never been enough to force a change in the policies or conduct of any nuclear power.
India has launched a massive diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan regionally and beyond. It has persistently tried to paint Pakistan as an epicenter of terrorism wont to sponsoring and exporting it beyond its borders. It has miserably failed to paint the indigenous Kashmiri movement for the right to self determination as a Pakistan inspired and supported terrorist activity. Out of sheer spite it scuttled the SAARC summit in Islamabad. Thereafter it tried to woo the participants at the BRICS and BIMSTECH summits in India to its point of view albeit with precious little success. It failed spectacularly again at the UNGA session. It has been whining for too long and continuously now in the world’s major capitals against Pakistan. Far from being isolated Pakistan, on the other hand, is fully engaged with all major and significant powers to include China, US, UK, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, other Middle Eastern states, CARs, EU and OIC and their major members and so on. Contrarily, it has been India which has failed so singularly thus far in getting membership of the NSG or anywhere close to the UNSC. Regardless, Modi-Doval duo’s fixation with Pakistan continues unabated.
India has tried economic coercion as well. It threatened to undo the MFN status to Pakistan and even abrogate the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). It could not implement the former because the balance of trade is already in its favor and doing so would have only brought losses to its own businesses. The IWT contains provisions guaranteed by the World Bank which would have forced India to abide by the laid down conditions. India must recognise that geographically Pakistan blocks off all its direct land accesses to the fossil fuel and mineral reserves of the Middle East, CARs and Afghanistan. It will need Pakistan’s goodwill to get to them. The trans-regional gas pipelines – Iran Pakistan and TAPI – both have to move through Pakistan. India cannot be expected to get genuinely involved with either. It is inconceivable that India would grant Pakistan such critically effective leverage over it which could literally neutralise its own leverage of being the upper riparian in the Indus River system. India thus should be taken out of both equations, now. Both pipelines must turn north and link up with China instead. Economic benefits of the CPEC will eventually attract all regional and extra regional countries further nullifying all perceptions of international isolation. Were India to get involved in the CPEC it could possibly have access to both the East-West and North-South trade corridors crisscrossing Pakistan. It could also have access to the most vital and critical link i.e. Wagah-Torkham and get linked with China via the CPEC road and rail infrastructure – but conditions would apply!
India’s futile attempts to militarily coerce Pakistan into submission have failed abysmally too. Its false flag operations at Pathankot, Uri and Baramula were only meant to divert attention from the critically adverse situation in IHK. Its spurious, fanciful, non-existent and imaginary “surgical strikes” have been the laughing stock of all knowledgeable, military and non-military international circles. Incessant violations of the LOC, WB and even the international borders (submarine sighted near Pakistan’s waters) will never be enough to force Pakistan to change its policies or ever become unconditionally subservient to India. Nuclear powers don’t ever feel overawed by such immature and ill considered ventures. India’s double pincers – heating up the eastern borders while stirring up trouble on the western one through Afghanistan have never been enough to destabilise or intimidate Pakistan into capitulation. India’s ingresses into Balochistan and Karachi have been identified and neutralised effectively. Sporadic terrorist activities inspired by India and launched from Afghanistan can be handled by Pakistan without much bother or prejudice to the CPEC.
Pakistan must reconsider its priorities in the region. It may even consider a basic paradigm shift and start Looking West. It may want to put the under-performing and utterly useless SAARC on to the back bench for the time being and move decisively to engage the ECO, SCO, CARs, Russia and the Greater Middle Eastern Region more proactively. The SCO in particular must be encouraged to acquire an economic and military dimension too in addition to the political one it has now and then expand its sphere of influence right up to the Mekran Coast. That would be in keeping with the evolving alignments in the region and will create a competing pole to the emerging Indo-US combine.
India needs to review its policies towards Pakistan realistically. Modi’s RSS links and his abiding hatred for Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular have badly affected India’s policy formulation thus limiting his options in dealing with Pakistan. Pakistan will never be coerced into submission. The Modi-Doval duo’s fixation on “fixing” Pakistan is a doomed enterprise. No amount of “offensive-defensive strategy”, or whatever is espoused by Mr Doval, is bound to succeed against Pakistan. Rather, it has the potential of bouncing back with accrued interest. India needs to change tack, be positive and resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan including Kashmir peacefully to gain from the economic bonanza awaiting the region. Else, it will remain moored and limited to the sub continent, frustratingly fixated upon Pakistan and of precious little value to itself or the US against China!