By Amanullah Khan
Narendra Modi led India is trying to reshape regional security environment in South Asia in many ways. Overall, India’s foreign policy (Modi Doctrine) vis-à-vis South Asia suggests a dominant posture. Apart from Pakistan, almost all South Asian countries are somewhat under Indian influence. Pakistan’s resistance to Indian hegemonic policies has put Modi’s government in a state of frustration, resulting into stressed relations between the two countries.
India blames Pakistan for uprising in the Indian occupied Kashmir, while Pakistan is unhappy over the strong Indian influence in Afghanistan, especially its security and intelligence apparatus in the country. Pakistan regards Afghanistan central to its peace and security, therefore, wants to see a stable, sovereign and independent Afghanistan. Indian factor in Afghanistan is not contributing positively towards achieving the objective of a peaceful Afghanistan. It is using Afghan territory to destabilize Pakistan through mercenary groups. Modi has openly talked about Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, which reflects his extremist mindset of Akhand Bharat, a dream by Chanakya. Pakistan has suffered in the past from the same mindset in 1971, where Mukti Bahini, a terrorist organization, was launched by RAW in East Pakistan, followed by Indian military invasion, resulted into the creation of Bangladesh. Modi and his high ups in the government are using the same tactics in Balochistan now, by supporting BLA and other insurgent elements.
Indian government of Modi is also working on a policy to isolate Pakistan in the international community. Modi himself and many of his top ministers have expressed about this on many occasions. For the purpose, he has been visiting many countries around the world to present its case of isolating Pakistan. To some extent, he has been successful in this regard, by effectively engaging Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and United States.
India signed an agreement with Iran to build Chabahar port for Iran that would link India to Afghanistan and Central Asian republics. Islamabad has not officially expressed concerns over the project but it is carefully watching to ensure that Iran’s soil is not used against Pakistan. Arrest of an Indian naval commander, Kulbhushan Yadav, by Pakistani security forces on Pak-Iran border has reinforced such apprehensions.
Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh are also at lowest ebb, primarily because of Sheikh Hasina’s anti-Pakistan position under the Indian pressure. She has gone beyond humanity level in her rage. Her government is executing senior Jamaat-e-Islami leaders after more than four decades on baseless allegations and through unfair trials.
Delhi and Washington have also come much closer, particularly in the defence sector. Their defence cooperation has increased enormously over the last few years. Containing China seems the main driving force for the close cooperation. India has been given a special status as far as US military technology is concerned. According to a report, India has access to 99 percent of US defence technologies. Washington has also supported Indian bid for Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) membership.
India has also been able to boost cordial relationship with Saudi Arabia, a close friend of Pakistan. Besides many agreements with India, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan conferred Modi with highest civilian awards. These developments are recent and all due to one man, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. World community would once call him an extremist who butchered thousands of Muslims in Gujrat province of India, and Washington and London had denied granting him visas. However, he has changed the entire course of Indian diplomacy in order to isolate Pakistan and further Indian national interests.
India is continuing its efforts to isolate Pakistan in the world community. Pakistan has somehow suffered by virtue of policies of the present Indian government, especially in cases of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and America. However, the question is whether India can completely isolate Pakistan? In simple terms, Modi’s policy would prove unproductive. Pakistan carries significance for the world and it cannot be left isolated for a longer time. The current developments are having short-term implications and the dust would settle soon. Except from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, neither Iran can afford enmity with Pakistan at the cost of friendship with India, nor Saudi Arabia would like to ignore Pakistan. Unlike Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Iranian government is independent and more sovereign. It would not like to be dictated about its foreign policy by a third state. Recent update is that Iran and Turkey have expressed great interest to become part of the CPEC project. There is also Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project underway, and Iran Navy warships have reached Karachi for joint exercises with Pakistan Navy. Iran considers Pakistan’s security as its own security. Perhaps Iran’s border with Pakistan is the most secure border. Likewise, Washington would not like disengagement with Pakistan being a significant player in the Afghan peace process. This is evident from the fact that US refrained from blaming Pakistan for the Uri attack despite huge hue and cry by the Indian government.
The major upsetting thing for India is China’s open support for Pakistan in every internal and external issue. Modi’s government knows that Pakistan and China cannot be subjugated and bullied like Afghanistan and Bangladesh. China has always been the frontline supporter of Pakistan. CPEC project, Pakistan endeavor for NSG membership, defence cooperation, and political support to Pakistan’s position on Kashmir are some of the examples reflecting strong ties between the two countries.
Russia, one of the close friends of India, has even shown interest to boost cooperation with Pakistan in military sector. There are talks underway for possible purchase of defence hardware from Russia. Moreover, Russian troops are carrying out joint military exercises with Pakistan Army.
In a nutshell, Modi can use its big economic leverage to turn some regional countries in its favor but in the longer run, its aggressive policies will prove negative for India (both internally and externally). Signs are now visible in this regard. Among so many internal social issues, there is unrest in the Occupied Kashmir valley from the last three months, Khalistan and other separatist movements have got momentum again.
History shows that India is bereft of a political logic, it only understand the logic of power. China let them understand the power logic in 1962 and ever since, it did not dare to take any direct provocative measure against China. After Uri attack, Modi’s government officials threatened Pakistan with surgical strikes that proved a bluff. Modi then talked of isolating Pakistan which also looks a fantasy. Next, Modi decided to block Pakistan’s share of water, by violating Indus Water Treaty. This strategy is also not going to work. India need to come out of a superiority complex as it cannot bully Pakistan under the nuclear umbrella. Let the world aside, for many reasons, India itself cannot ignore Pakistan. It is almost impossible to isolate a country completely in the anarchic world.
Amanullah Khan is a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute in Islamabad. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org