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Test For Diplomacy

Relations with Pakistan, China and Sri Lanka and the stand it will
take on the looming new Cold War will constitute the biggest foreign policy and security
challenges before the Modi government
! by "#$% C$&R'(%
Courtesy) *ront Line, 'ndia
+ "une ,, -.,/, Chennai, Sri Lanka 0uardian1 2he world will keenly watch the newly elected
3haratiya "anata Party4led government formulate its foreign policy priorities 5uring the run4
up to the Lok Sabha elections, the focus of prime ministerial candidate %arendra Modi was on
domestic issues $is stated top priority, then and now, is providing good governance and
reversing the country6s economic slide $owever, his reference to illegal 73angladeshi
immigrants8 and his attempts to differentiate between $indu and Muslim immigrants during
his campaign in West 3engal and (ssam have perturbed the government in 5haka 3angladesh
is one of 'ndia6s closest regional allies Modi6s hawkish views on Pakistan are already well
known $e has said on several occasions that Pakistan is not doing enough to curtail anti4'ndian
terror activities on its soil $e had also boasted that if elected Prime Minister, he would bring
back to 'ndia 5awood 'brahim, who is on the top of 'ndia6s list of most wanted terrorists
5awood has residences in 5ubai and 9arachi
2he political class and the military establishment in Pakistan view Modi through the lens of the
-..- 0u:arat pogrom Privately, some Pakistani officials say that it will be difficult for the
Pakistani political leadership to engage constructively with the new right4wing government in
%ew 5elhi, given Modi6s record of Pakistan bashing $owever, Pakistan Prime Minister
%awa; Sharif formally congratulated Modi and invited him to visit his country 3oth Sharif and
Modi are known to be business4friendly leaders &<panding trade and commerce between the
two countries could provide the right recipe for an e<tended thaw in bilateral relations
'nvitations have been e<tended to leaders of all South (sian (ssociation for Regional
Cooperation +S((RC1 countries, including Pakistan, to attend Modi6s swearing4in ceremony
Sharif had invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend his swearing4in ceremony last
year, but no senior 'ndian leader attended the function
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Ra:apaksa is among the four S((RC leaders who are e<pected
to witness Modi take the oath of office 2he invitation to Ra:apaksa has angered the ruling (ll
'ndia (nna 5ravida Munnetra 9a;hagam +('(5M91 'n a statement issued on May --, Chief
Minister "ayalalithaa e<pressed her 7dismay8 over the invitation e<tended to Ra:apaksa She
said) 7't is with a deep sense of anguish that we point this out to the new government to be
formed at the Centre Particularly, with regard to the relationship of the new Central
government with the 0overnment of 2amil %adu, it would have been better if this ill4advised
move had been avoided8 2he 3"P6s coalition partners in 2amil %adu have also e<pressed their
strong misgivings at the invite e<tended to Ra:apaksa 'ts allies, including Marumalarchi
5ravida Munnetra 9a;hagam leader =aiko, have been demanding that Ra:apaksa be tried for
war crimes committed during the last stage of the ethnic war in the island nation 2he previous
>nited Progressive (lliance +>P(1 government had voted once in the >nited %ations $uman
Rights Commission +>%$RC1 against the Sri Lankan government on human rights issues4
related resolutions +see bo< on page /?1
Many people in Pakistan believe that it will be easier for their government to negotiate with a
3"P4led government on key bilateral issues 2hey draw a comparison with the situation in West
(sia where the Palestinian and (rab governments prefer to deal with the hard4line Likud Party
in 'srael 2he reasoning is that right4wing parties will be better positioned to sway nationalist
opinions Relations with Pakistan and China could pose the biggest foreign policy and security
challenges to the Modi government 2he last 'ndian Prime Minister to visit 'slamabad was (tal
3ihari =a:payee of the 3"P Manmohan Singh, it is well known, had a great desire to visit
Pakistan before he demitted office $e was afraid of the criticism and charges of appeasement
he would face from opposition @uarters, especially the 3"P, if he visited 'slamabad ( Chinese
think tank has described Modi as the 7Richard %i<on8 of 'ndia %i<on, a right4wing Republican
President of the >nited States, effected a dramatic breakthrough in Washington6s relations with
3ei:ing in the early ,AB.s 2here are a few optimists among strategic thinkers and diplomats
who believe that Modi could do the same for 'ndia4China and 'ndia4Pakistan relations
With the >S forces winding up their presence in (fghanistan, significant changes are e<pected
in the politics of the country and the surrounding region (bdullah (bdullah, who is known to
be close to %ew 5elhi, is the front4runner in the (fghan presidential election 2his is a
development that is causing considerable unease in 'slamabad 2he security establishment there
is already perturbed by the growing influence of 'ndia in the corridors of power in 9abul 2he
Pakistani security establishment continues to view (fghanistan as its strategic backyard 2he
2aliban, lying low for some time, is e<pected to make its military moves after the bulk of the
Western troops depart 2he leadership of the (fghan 2aliban continues to have strong links with
the Pakistani security establishment 'f (fghanistan descends into another round of
bloodletting, there could be repercussions for 'ndia Many of the global 7:ehadis8 fighting in
(fghanistan could then turn their attention to 9ashmir, as happened in the ,AA.s (s Muslim
alienation in 'ndia increases following the rise of the $indu Right and in the absence of Muslim
representation in the new government, the country could become a recruiting ground for
religious e<tremism
*rom available indications, Modi6s foreign policy advisers are likely to be personalities who
have a reputation for being hawkish on Pakistan and China (ny new terror incident that could
be perpetrated by terrorists having links with groups across the border now carries the risk of
spinning out of control and escalating beyond a war of words #n the campaign trail, Modi,
thumping his 7C?4inch8 chest, threatened a robust response to any provocation from across the
border 'n (runachal Pradesh, which China considers a 7disputed territory8, Modi said that
under his watch not a single inch of 'ndian territory would be bartered away 2here have been
serious incidents along the Line of (ctual Control +L(C1 and the Line of Control +LoC1 in
recent years Last year, some incidents along the LoC escalated, leading to prolonged shelling
and killing of military personnel on both sides 3etter sense prevailed and both sides
subse@uently de4escalated the conflict
%uclear doctrine
2he 3"P6s initial announcement in its manifesto that if elected it would 7revise and update8
'ndia6s nuclear doctrine sent shock waves through the international community 't was widely
interpreted that the party would renege on 'ndia6s 7no first use8 +nfu1 of nuclear weapons
'ndia6s main military rival is Pakistan 2he 3"P leadership was @uick to backtrack on the issue
and gave an assurance that there was no move to revise the country6s nuclear doctrine >nder
the previous %ational 5emocratic (lliance and >P( governments, the nfu pledge had been
diluted considerably 'ndia does not have to stand by the nfu pledge if it comes under chemical
or biological weapons attack 'n -.,., %ational Security (dviser Shiv Shankar Menon said that
nfu would only apply to non4nuclear weapons states
Pakistan, meanwhile, is busy buttressing its nuclear arsenal to counter what it claims is a
massive conventional military build4up by 'ndia 3ulletin of (tomic Scientists, a reputed
(merican :ournal, claimed in an article published in -.,,, that by the end of the decade
Pakistan would have enough fissile capacity to build many more bombs than 'ndia 'ndia6s
superiority in conventional military forces vis4a4vis Pakistan has become meaningless given the
reality of the nuclear parity that e<ists between the two countries now 't was the previous %5(
government that initiated the Pokhran '' nuclear tests, on May ,,, ,AAD Pakistan immediately
conducted its own nuclear tests on May -D and E., ,AAD 2he international community was
forced to recognise the e<istence of two de facto nuclear powers in the region
5espite the $indu Right6s traditional animosity towards China and its support for the 2ibetan
cause, Modi wants 'ndia to emulate the Chinese capitalist model (s the Chief Minister of
0u:arat, he earned fre@uent flier miles on his air trips to China 3ut many of his advisers and
supporters want Modi to copy the style of another right4wing nationalist, Prime Minister
Shin;o (be of "apan 'n fact, Modi seems to be consciously aping (be6s political antics (fter
becoming Prime Minister, (be visited the Fasukuni shrine, where the remains of "apanese 7war
criminals8 are interred 2he Shinto shrine is revered by right4wing nationalists in "apan Modi,
before assuming charge as Prime Minister of the secular republic, was seen performing $indu
rituals on the banks of the 0anga in =aranasi (be, like Modi, wants his country to become a
leading global economic and military power 'n pursuit of these goals, (be is seeking to rewrite
the "apanese 7Peace8 Constitution and lead an anti4China alliance of (sian countries 2hen,
there is the 7(benomics8 he hopes will dramatically make the "apanese economy boom once
again (nd in 'ndia, we now have 7Modinomics8
Washington42okyo a<is
2here will be immense pressure on the new 3"P4led %5( government from "apan and the >S
to become part of the Washington42okyo military a<is to help in the 3arack #bama
administration6s military 7pivot to the &ast8 2rilateral military e<ercises were conducted under
the auspices of the >P( government 3ut the >P( withstood pressure from Washington to
provide forward4operating bases for the >S military on 'ndian soil >S politicians and think
tanks have been critical of the >P( government for sticking to 7outmoded8 concepts such as
non4alignment and 7strategic autonomy8
(shton Carter, a former >S (ssistant 5efence Secretary and the man tipped to be the ne<t
>S envoy to 'ndia, recently wrote in *oreign Policy "ournal that the >S viewed 'ndia 7as
integral8 to #bama6s 7pivot to the &ast8 strategy 7*rom the conception of our new strategy, the
>nited States has seen 'ndia as integral to a rebalance not :ust to the (sia4Pacific region, but
also within the region,8 he wrote $e went on to emphasise that defence relations between the
two countries had been strengthened significantly 9eeping in view the >P( government6s
sensitivities, the defence relations were kept 7below the radar8 by the >S side 't was after
Carter took over as 5eputy 5efence Secretary that the >S sold sophisticated weaponry to
'ndia 'n -.,E, 'ndia was the largest single purchaser of >S arms
2he >S (rmy has conducted more :oint e<ercises with the 'ndian defence forces than with
any other country 2he -..D nuclear deal was supposed to seal the 'ndia4>S strategic
partnership 3ut irritants such as the 7nuclear liability bill8 and the 79hobragade8 incident have
soured the relations a bit
+'ndian diplomat 5evayani 9hobragade was arrested by the >S police last year on charges of
visa fraud1 %ow Washington wants to make up for lost time &ven before Modi was formally
sworn in, the >S e<pressed the hope that naval cooperation with 'ndia could be e<panded
(dmiral "onathan 0reenert, Chief of %aval #perations, said in the third week of May that he
would like 'ndia6s participation in :oint e<ercises in the Western Pacific region, where,
according to the Pentagon, the Chinese navy has become more assertive in recent years China
is already involved in an increasingly acrimonious territorial dispute with =ietnam in the South
China Sea 2here was a confrontation between Chinese and =ietnamese naval ships in (pril
after China installed a drilling rig in an area that is also claimed by =ietnam 'ndia6s #il and
%atural 0as Corporation +#%0C1 has a stake in a gas field near the disputed waters in the
South China Sea
=ietnam is now closely coordinating its diplomatic moves with countries ranged against China
't wants 'ndia to supply sophisticated missiles and other military hardware to its military China
will be watching 'ndia6s diplomatic and strategic moves towards countries such as =ietnam and
"apan #bama, during his recent visit to "apan, pledged to come to 2okyo6s aid in case
hostilities broke out with China over the disputed SenkakuG5iaoyu islands in the &ast China
Sea Many commentators warn that there is a serious danger of an all4out war breaking out in
(sia once again 2he new 'ndian government must weigh its options carefully before taking
sides
'deological soulmates
2he #bama administration was @uick to congratulate Modi on his victory and invite him to
visit Washington 2he >S had revoked Modi6s visa in -..C for his alleged role in the -..-
0u:arat riots 2he &uropean >nion +&>1, too, had followed suit and denied Modi a visa 3ut
many &> member4states mellowed towards Modi much before his election 2he >nited
9ingdom was among the first to do so 'n many ma:or West &uropean countries such as *rance
and the >9, right4wing and 'slamophobic parties are on the ascendant 3ritish Prime Minister
5avid Cameron, catering to right4wing sentiments, recently described 3ritain as a 7Christian8
country Modi will find many ideological soulmates among leaders in &urope
2he >P( government, given 'ndia6s membership of 3R'CS +an association of 3ra;il, Russia,
'ndia, China and South (frica1 and its close relations with Russia, had generally adopted a
cautious stance on Syria and the crisis in >kraine Western governments and their regional
allies were unhappy with the positions %ew 5elhi had adopted on some other issues as well
2here will be renewed pressure on the %5( government to support calls for military
intervention in Syria 2he 'sraeli media are claiming that Modi is the 7best friend8 the country
has in the whole of South (sia 'srael has invested billions of dollars in the 7model state8 of
0u:arat 'sraeli commentators say that under Modi, ties between the two countries will deepen
'ndia and 'srael are already cooperating closely on counterterror and homeland security issues
3ra:esh Mishra, %ational Security (dviser during the %5( government led by (3 =a:payee,
said in a speech delivered before an (merican "ewish audience in -..E that he would like a
Washington42el (viv4%ew 5elhi a<is to 7:ointly face the ugly face of terrorism8 2he %5(
government had given the notorious (riel Sharon a red carpet welcome in 5elhi 'srael last
year sold defence weapons worth more than H,. billion to 'ndia, outpacing even Russian
military sales
Washington would want %ew 5elhi to side with the West in the looming new Cold War with
Moscow
2he crisis in >kraine has already resulted in dramatic realignments 2he sanctions and the war
of words unleashed against Moscow have forced Russian President =ladimir Putin to reorient
his foreign policy $e visited China in May to further strengthen defence and commercial links
between the two countries ( historic natural gas deal, worth over H/.. billion, was signed
during the visit Russia is all set to sell a s@uadron of Su4EC :et fighters to China 'ndia holds an
observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation #rganisation +SC#1 but has not sought full
membership Russia and China want to build the SC# as a counterweight to the %orth (tlantic
2reaty #rganisation +%(2#1 3oth Moscow and 3ei:ing have been feeling the heat from the
West and are, therefore, busy formulating policies that would give them more room to
manoeuvre 'ndia, too, has to formulate policies that will help insulate it from the machinations
of outside powers
'ndia6s relations with 'ran will also be watched keenly 2he previous government had fallen in
line with the unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington Companies such as Reliance, which
had a booming business in the petrochemical sector with 'ranian companies, had pulled out
'ran, which was once the biggest oil e<porter to 'ndia, now lags behind Saudi (rabia, 'ra@ and
=ene;uela China, on the other hand, despite the Western sanctions on 2ehran, is doing great
business with 'ran, unmindful of the >S6 reaction