Modi diplomacy faces moment of truth By M K Bhadrakumar

Modi diplomacy faces moment of truth

By M K Bhadrakumar

September 23, 2016

The report on the arrival of a Russian army contingent to participate in the first-ever military exercises with Pakistan since 1947 will come as a bitter moment of truth for the Narendra Modi government’s disastrous one-dimensional foreign policy course.

Of course, this is a huge topic of far-reaching significance and it deserves a full spectrum analysis separately. Meanwhile, what matters in real time today is that the ballyhoo that Modi boosted India’s influence like at no time in independent history, et al, stands rubbished as empty bluster in front of the national (and regional and international) audience.

The only good part is that Indians can heave a sigh of relief that notwithstanding all the sabre-rattling by such figures in the ruling circles as former RSS spokesman Ram Madhav — ‘tooth-for-jaw’, etc. — there isn’t going to be war between India and Pakistan. It is a comforting thought.

Obviously, Russians do not take seriously the prospect of Indian retaliation on Uri attack. Or else, they wouldn’t have dispatched their soldiers to a potential war zone. With all their military satellites over South Asia, Russians estimate that ‘hawks’ like Madhav are indulging in vacuous rhetoric to appease their constituency of Sangh Parivar and Hindu nationalists.

In political terms, this makes our leaders look the emperor without clothes, farcical and ugly – with nowhere to hide. They speak of ‘tooth-for-jaw’ without meaning a damn thing, making fools out of us.

Image result for Russia Pakistan Military Exercises

Second, it is a diplomatic snub insofar as, evidently, Russians do not buy into India’s argument that Uri attack was staged by Pakistan. Third, in strategic terms, Russians signal their intention to move forward with the project to build sinews of a partnership with Pakistan, putting in place building blocks, and Delhi has to learn to live with this reality.

Fourth, in geopolitical terms, Russians signal that if India bandwagons with the US’ pivot to Asia against the backdrop of New Cold War, they will be constrained to respond. Finally, please note that the fortnight-long military exercise will be held in the tribal areas of Pakistan and in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The symbolism is self-evident — plain rejection of Modi government’s policy shift on Kashmir to irrationally stake claims to Gilgit-Baltistan as integral part of India. The Indian protestations over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on the specious plea that the projects partially involve Gilgit-Baltistan become even more untenable.

Ironically, Modi government gets a similar reality-check also in the reported meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on Wednesday on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session.

Rouhani reportedly expressed Iran’s interest to link up with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. According to Iranian reports, Rouhani told Sharif, ‘Iran considers security and progress of Pakistan as its own security and progress… Development of any part of Pakistan is the development of a part of Iran.’

Rouhani also co-related Chabahar with Gwadar. Indeed, he made these remarks only a day after Sharif took the UN GA floor to condemn Indian policies as posing a threat to regional security. So, how does the balance sheet look?

One, Russia and Iran regard Pakistan as a meaningful interlocutor and neither will be party to ‘isolating’ Pakistan; two, neither visualizes Pakistan as a state sponsoring terrorism; three, neither trusts Delhi’s account of Uri attack; and, four, India is barking up the wrong tree as regards China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Rouhani’s cutting remark on Iran’s shared security interests with Pakistan amounts to a warning to India to lay off Baluchistan. Indeed, Modi’s aides gave him incredibly foolish advice to speak on Baluchistan from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day. They seem blissfully ignorant that stabilization Baluchistan is in Iran’s core interests, too, since any fluidity in that region negatively impacts the security of Iran’s contiguous Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Modi’s aides could have taken one good look at the map to know that inciting unrest in Baluchistan cannot go hand in hand with our projects in Chabahar in Sistan-Baluchistan. Rouhani told Sharif that Tehran will not allow contradictions involving Chabahar and Gwadar. Does Iran have the wherewithal to fulfill the assurance? You bet, it has. If Iranians could keep Mossad-CIA-MI6 at bay effectively through past 3 decades, they must be knowing their job.

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