AA Edit | Pak an irritant, keep eye on key adversary China

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

India’s aversion to war has always guided its foreign policy.

Pakistan may fulminate in verbal aggression, but China is the adversary that is tensing up the border. (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP)

The United States has welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for cessation of hostilities and pursuing the path of diplomacy to end the Ukraine war. The views of the US and the West may be different when it comes to India buying loads of Russian oil at discount, but they have been consistent in lauding India’s intent in calling for an end to Ukraine hostilities first.

The world still believes the personal equation between Mr Modi and Vladimir Putin might have a bearing on bringing about an end to a war that has gone on for 10 months and is affecting all major economies while enriching only the military-industrial complex as the West dispenses weapons into the conflict in defence of Ukraine.

India’s opposition to war, consistent with the conciliatory stand of the apostle of peace considered the father of the nation, is well known enough though India did intercede militarily 50 years ago in the liberation of Bangladesh. Extraordinary as the circumstances prevailing then were, it suited India strategically as there was one less border to feel tense about.

In the next half century, India may have had to engage with Pakistan in Siachen in 1999 and in more recent times to contend with China’s belligerence and its continued transgression and encroachment in pursuit of its territorial ambitions. Even then, India’s aversion to war has always guided its foreign policy.

It is in this context that the noise Pakistan has been making at the UN in most recent days must be evaluated. It is risible that some leaders must think it is time to keep reminding the world periodically that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country. While the world fears over the security of those nuclear deterrence assets, the latest round of sabre-rattling by the PPP leader Shazia Marri was as pointless as it was futile in arguments between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto’s response to external affairs minister S. Jaishankar bringing up Pakistan giving shelter to the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was contemptible. Mr Jaishankar may have used the Osama peg to bring out irrefutable links to Pakistan as a state that has been known to sponsor terror aimed at neighbours like India and Afghanistan.

Over time, India has heard much at the UN from Pakistani representatives. Many of the references to the Kashmir issue are old hat as they date back to about 75 years. In its current state, the UN is a body that is powerless to do anything about the world’s conflicts. But Pakistan has been known as a past master at the art of using the forum to rave and rant. India may ignore much of it as white noise associated with UN debates, but the reference made last week to India’s Prime Minister in relation to Osama was shocking.

The ground realties are influenced by action and not words. Pakistan may fulminate in verbal aggression, but China is the adversary that is tensing up the border, even opening a new front with the biggest of the latest skirmishes occurring on the Arunachal border. That is where India’s military preparedness will be tested and that is where India’s focus must lie.