Ideas and Action for a Better India
By Parjanya Bhatt
In view of the ever growing China-Pakistan axis, India should explore all diplomatic options as well as calculated military response.
Uri attack is not the first act of war which Pakistan has committed against the Indian state. In past two decades Pakistan has strategically used state-sponsored terrorism against India. At regular intervals the international community has criticised Pakistan for using non-state actors as part of its state policy, but financial aid from Washington and diplomatic support from Beijing has only encouraged Islamabad to use terror as a weapon in its asymmetric warfare against India.
However, China has benefitted the most from Pakistan’s anti-India terror activities. While the Indian state has been busy fighting Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, Beijing has been building infrastructure in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an extension of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. With China’s increasing footprints in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi has lost ground to Beijing. India’s passive foreign policy has also allowed China gain a free hand in the subcontinent.
The Uri attack, though unfortunate, has provided the Modi government with the golden opportunity to play the Balochistan card, seeds of which, were sown earlier this year on 15th August by the PM.
While the national media is crying for blood – India can prepare to deal with China and Pakistan simultaneously. To begin with, in the short-term, New Delhi should look to isolate Islamabad at the SAARC summit to be held in Pakistan in November (the process is already underway). Afghanistan and Bangladesh – the other two victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism have already shown signs of dissent. Kabul has categorically hinted at Islamabad’s complicity in the Uri attack. In the same tone, Dhaka too has chided Islamabad. Seeking help from the UN and approaching America for asking Pakistan to stop India-centric terror activities is a policy of the past. For tackling Pakistan-sponsored terrorism – India must choose partners from her immediate neighbourhood. Statements coming from Kabul and Dhaka are a clear indication of growing regional grievance against Islamabad and a call for collective regional action against Pakistan.
In the political and diplomatic corridors of New Delhi, change of approach is clearly visible. Ever since the Modi government came to power, Indian foreign policy has become pre-emptive, proactive and swift. Reference to Balochistan was part of the long-term strategy. Granting asylum to Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti would work both in short-term as well as long-term, because what Dalai Lama is to China on Tibet, Bugti is to Pakistan on Balochistan. India has not used the Dalai Lama card very well against China, but Beijing has always felt nervous. Bugti can be that one diplomatic stick to make Islamabad bend before the world and explain her human rights violation, an issue on which even Beijing doesn’t have a clean record.
Carving out Balochistan may not be a good idea and peaceful Pakistan is in everyone’s interest, but India cannot allow to the military imbalance tilt further in favour of China-Pakistan alliance. New Delhi must break this asymmetry sooner than later. The time is now!
The latest Kashmir rant by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations is a clear indication that Islamabad is feeling the heat. His body language, the content of his speech, his eulogy to the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani and the prolonged reference to unrest in Kashmir appeared to have been done in advance with an intension of countering India’s possible internationalisation of the Balochistan issue at the UN next week. This was bound to happen in absence of a full time foreign minister. However, from the UN platform, the Indian response was immediate, blunt and penetrative when it called Pakistan a terror state. The recent legislation moved by two American lawmakers to designate Pakistan as a terror state may not be passed, but it clearly indicates the growing dissent against the US policy of soft peddling Pakistan. However, what remains to be seen is whether the changing tenor of the US would have any impact on China’s continued support to Islamabad for its selfish interests.
In view of the ever growing China-Pakistan axis, India should explore all possible diplomatic options as well as calculated military response.
(The author is a Research Fellow with Observer Research Foundation Mumbai. Views expressed in this article are personal)