India’s recent diplomatic manoeuvres reflect its clear understanding of the changing international scene, growing uncertainties and developing complexities while focusing sharply on its national interests and simultaneously working for common ‘good’ globally in line with Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR). India’s participation in two groups, which comprise rival nations – BRICS and G 7- and PM Modi-Putin tele conversation bring out this approach distinctly as also the fact that India has emerged as a major pole.
At the BRICS Summit, while the discussions included the issues pertaining to Counter-Terrorism, Trade, Health, Traditional Medicine, Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, Agriculture, Technical and Vocational Education & Training, and also key issues in the global context, including the reform of the multilateral system, COVID-19 pandemic, global economic recovery, PM Modi criticized the duplicitous approach on the terrorism. He noted “as BRICS members we should understand security concerns of each other and provide mutual support in designation of terrorists; this sensitive issue should not be politicized.” This was an apparent reference to the Chinese objection to the UNSC-led sanctioning of a Pak based terrorist-not the first time.
A week before the BRICS Summit, Indian officials had informally criticized China for putting a technical hold on the listing of Pakistan-based Abdul Rehman Makki as a global terrorist under the al-Qaida Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. Though there was no formal statement, yet official sources had termed China’s last-minute objection as “extremely unfortunate” and smacking of “double standards”.
Abdul Rehman Makki is a notorious Pak-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and closely associated and related with Hafiz Sayeed of Jammat-ud Da’wa – the terrorist, who was the mastermind of 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Earlier, China had placed hurdles for the listing of known Pak based terrorists. It had repeatedly blocked proposals to designate Maulana Masood Azhar, Chief of Pakistan-based and UN-proscribed terrorist entity, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Of course, Pakistan had in the past sentences Hafiz Sayeed and Maulna Azhar, when FATF had indicated that it could action against Pakistan for not penalising the known terrorists. Abdul Rahman Makki too was given a mild sentence of six-month imprisonment. It is well known that the above-mentioned terrorists are not only roaming free but they are enjoying five-star facilities in Pakistan. India’s Foreign Minster S. Jaishankar in his first address to the United Nations Security Council, after India joined this body as the non-permanent Member in January 2021, stated without mincing words in an oblique reference to China and Pakistan that some states were guilty of delaying the process of designating individuals and entities as terrorists and providing them with the five-star facilities.
The reason for this Chinese approach is not far to seek. In the current environment China acts as a proxy for Pakistan. The Chinese anti-West and ant-India sentiments are propelling the country to go against its oft repeated rhetoric of fighting against terrorism. it also entertains the view that in Central Asia, Pakistan would be able to control the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which is demanding freedom of the Xinjiang region. By repeatedly acting as a proxy for Pakistan, China sends a clear message of strengthened Sino-Pak axis.
On the issue of Russia -Ukraine conflict, while Chinese President criticized sanctions, India maintained neutral stance. India desires the end of the conflict and realises that by pushing the process of allegations and counter-accusations the situation would be exacerbated. India is clear that the US support is central to check China in the Indo-Pacific, while its close relations with Russia cannot be disturbed. India has close historical links with Russia and its energy requirements need the Russian support. In addition, India also needs to have Russia on its side to check China’s anti-India approach.
Another issue that Modi highlighted was the need for Free, Open, and Inclusive ruled based maritime space and “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations from the Indian Ocean Region to the Pacific Ocean”. The growing Chinese activities demand international attention including the members of BRICKS.
At the G 7, India, made its approach clear on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. According to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, PM Modi reiterated that there must be an immediate end to the hostilities and a resolution should be reached by choosing the path of dialogue and diplomacy. He also highlighted the knockdown effect of the conflict in Eastern Europe on the food security crisis, especially in the vulnerable countries.
On climate change, PM Modi gave a clear picture about India. Speaking at a G 7 session on climate, energy and health, Modi said India had achieved the target of 40 per cent energy capacity from non-fossil sources nine years before time. He also highlighted that, although 17 per cent of the world’s population resides in India, its contribution of global carbon emissions is only 5 per cent. He also stated that the target of 10 per cent ethanol-blending in petrol had been achieved 5 months before time. In addition, he pointed out that India has the world’s first fully solar powered airport. He also called for making the triple P-movement (Pro-Planet People) a success by assiduously working towards it.
PM Modi had tele-conversation with Putin. Both sides discussed ways to enhance trading in agricultural goods, fertilizers and pharmaceutical products. In the context of the situation in Ukraine, PM Modi reiterated India’s long-standing position in favor of dialogue and diplomacy. Putin also briefed PM Modi on the key aspects of the Russian special military operation, emphasizing ‘the dangerous and provocative nature’ of the line of the Kyiv regime and its Western patrons aimed at escalating the crisis and disrupting efforts to resolve it politically and diplomatically. Both leaders also “expressed mutual intention for the comprehensive strengthening of the special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India”. This reaffirmed the close relations between the two nations.
In both the Summits and the tele-conversation, India has maintained its stance in line with its national interests. India stands for ending the conflict in Ukraine and resolve the issue through dialogue and diplomacy. There is acceptance by all powers that now India is a major pole and the credit for this goes to the dexterous Indian diplomacy, which is making right moves in the changing international equations and growing uncertainties in the international structure.
However, there is need to remain cautious over the increasing pressure from the US and its allies on the one hand and the Sino-Pak axis on the other. While the US realises that without India, the objective of Free, Open, and Inclusive Indo-Pacific cannot be realized without India, it keeps on pressurising India on the issue of human rights as is clear from its recent report. The overall objective of the US is to compel India to align its approach with the US on Russia. The Sino-Pak axis can see more pressure on the borders and on J&K. For China terrorism focused on India is okay as that would keep the Indian forces occupied. Encouraged by China, Pakistan may intensify its support to terrorist outfits. China is likely to continue with its expansionist policy and therefore its containment is imperative both along the Indo-Tibet-border and in the Indo-Pacific. These call for taking precautionary measures along the borders and in J&K as also for containing China in the Indian Ocean. In the long-run, India needs to accelerate its pace for enhancing the Comprehensive National Strength.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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