India’s foreign policy risks destabilizing the region
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India’s foreign policy risks destabilizing the region

Thursday, 26 November 2020
This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Indian policemen patrolling a street in the city of Srinagar in Jammu on 19 March, 2020.

India, the largest country in South Asia, once carried the mantle of anchoring peace and development in the region. It has gone exactly in reverse.

The reason interestingly has not been a conscious departure from the Nehruvian secularism but a slow caving in to the atavistic tribal notions, rooted in a mythical past and its esoteric traditions. These myths and traditions, hallowed with religious sanction, have been cleverly married with a muscular Hindu nationalist creed known as Hindutva.

The corporate world and business elite are the main beneficiaries of the current mercantilist model of governance in India, where a right-wing populist leader in PM’s mold rules the roost and cocks a snook at pluralism, rationality and political inclusivism. Small wonder that that policy results in domestic injustices like deprivation of citizen rights for minorities through the infamous Citizen Amendment Act and National Register of Citizen that targets minorities, especially in West Bengal and Assam.

The illegal annexation of Kashmir and crude attempts to change its demographic character has landed India in trouble with Beijing due to claims on Chinese land in Aksai Chin as Indian territory. The Indian government, instead of embracing a cooperative paradigm of economic engagement, has preferred to be pressed into the service of a global power as a regional surrogate, which compels it to confront Beijing.

Unfortunately, India is paying the price for its myopic leadership. At a time when ASEAN-RCEP free trade initiatives have been launched with countries like Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, India has decided to opt out. That decision is irrational, for a state that values the macro-economic benefits in this age of global geo-economics.

So, what is driving India into this destabilizing proclivity, pulling itself and its neighbours down? It is in fact a misguided notion of revanchism and irredentism that drives the country, ignoring the current regional realities and economic potentials. By what means this notion is being manifest is most clearly seen through some of the policies and strategies being followed by India vis-a-vis Pakistan.

Since Pakistan clearly champions the Kashmir cause besides highlighting New Delhi’s human rights violations, it appears to be the betenoire of India. In order, therefore, to destabilize Pakistan, Indian intelligence and military, have devised a long-term strategy under the direct patronage of the political government, according to Pakistani authorities.

This month’s serious claims by Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi of Indian state involvement with militant organizations on Pakistani soil are highly concerning, given the highly militarized border separating the Pakistani and Indian occupied Kashmir.

Fulfilling its promise to present “irrefutable evidence”, Pakistan subsequently shareddossier on India’s terror campaign to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, urging him to prevail on New Delhi to desist from its aggressions. The allegations relate to an overall strategy to keep Pakistan destabilized through various support acts of terrorism, disinformation, economic strangulation, and insurrections in the restive Baluchistan region and other places inside Pakistan.

Among others, it was alleged that India has established and is sponsoring terrorist groups including UN-designated terrorist groups Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and Allah Nazar’s Baluch Liberation Army including reunification of Baloch Raaji Aaoie Sangar (BRAS) by utilizing Afghan soil.

Islamabad’s scathing allegations come at a time when the entire world looks at the Afghan peace process with optimism. India seems to be the only country attempting to scuttle it. The sooner the world community takes note, the better.