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Alliances and rivalries

The shape of regional alliances and rivalries in South Asia has become clearer in the past few days first during the BRICS summit in Goa and then with further Chinese statements on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The announcement that the nuclear reactor in Chashma, funded and constructed by China, has now been connected to the grid came just days after China once again rejected Indian membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. China also said it was eagerly awaiting Iran’s inclusion in the CPEC, which will be viewed in Delhi as an attempt by China to build an alliance that will act as a counterweight to Indian influence. All of this will come as encouraging news to Pakistan as it pushes back against Indian attempts to isolate it and have it denounced as a sponsor of terrorism. The BRICS summit itself showed both the expansion of India’s international influence and the limits it still faces, especially now the China has taken a more adversarial role. India had hoped to use the summit to not only get expanded trade and defence deals with the attending nations – Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa – but to get them to denounce Pakistan as the epicentre of world terrorism. China, whose foreign office spokesman mentioned the sacrifices Pakistan had made in combating terrorism and described us as being as much a victim of terrorism as India, blocked any such move. Modi had wanted the final statement of the summit to denounce Pakistan as the ‘mothership of terrorism’ but not only was China able to ensure there would be no mention of Pakistan in the text, it also said it would continue to block India’s move at the UN to have Masood Azhar blacklisted. It has now even pulled out of the trade session at the BRICS summit. The China-India rivalry for regional dominance is now the only counterweight to India’s campaign to have Pakistan tarred and feathered on the global stage.

There was a danger that India’s ties to Russia too would come under strain after Putin went ahead with his country’s first ever joint defence exercises with Pakistan right before the summit. However, Russia said it had no intention of giving defence equipment to Pakistan and signed deals for the sale of missile technology to India on the sidelines of the summit. Russia’s greater interest in Pakistan was explained as part of its strategy for fighting the Islamic State. So Russia’s relationship with India, dating back to the early days of the cold war, seems intact. India’s influence was seen not so much in what was discussed at the summit but in what was left out. At a time when India is carrying out a brutal campaign of violence in Kashmir, not one country brought up the situation or urged India to show restraint. Multiple UN resolutions on Kashmir did not merit any mention. China was the only country to release even a tepid statement urging India to seek a peaceful resolution of its problems with Pakistan. This is how India has managed to get away with its illegal occupation of Kashmir for nearly 70 years and this is why it is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. It may take Pakistan’s alliance with China and the expansion of the CPEC to include other countries for India’s influence to wane even a little bit and its atrocities in Kashmir to start being questioned.

Source: Daily The News

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