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TOI EDIT-Masood Azhar Effect After India’s reset with Pakistan it is time for a reset with China

March 15, 2019 06:40 AM


Masood Azhar Effect
After India’s reset with Pakistan it is time for a reset with China
China has ambitions of becoming the pre-eminent geopolitical power. Such a role calls for big contributions to global common goods, such as taking on terrorism and enhancing regional security. But in its role as Pakistan’s strategic patron, China fails miserably at this task. Far from reining in the Pakistan mosquemujahideen-military complex there’s a Red Wall of protection going up around it. At the UN China has now blocked a proposal to ban Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar for the fourth time. This is an abhorrent response to the deadliest terror attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir, for which JeM claimed responsibility.

In responding to the Pulwama attack with an air strike against the JeM terror training camp at Balakot, India broke free of its self-imposed shackles in the proxy war that Pakistan has been waging against it for decades. But China’s actions at the UNSC – having Pakistan’s back even when it’s being pressed by most world capitals to roll up its state sponsorship of terrorism – reveal it to be the elephant in the room that New Delhi must now wake up to.

Beijing follows a curious double standard in dealing with New Delhi – while it expects the latter to treat its red lines on what it defines as its core interests with great deference, it also stomps all over India’s core interests. It appears more apprehensive about how JeM may react to any ban placed on its leader, than to how New Delhi may respond to being consistently spurned. It is this calculus that New Delhi must seek to change if the NDA government’s claims of ushering in a ‘new India’, that has snapped out of its perennially defensive approach, have any substance.

Thus, New Delhi can stop being overly cautious about China’s sensitivities from Taiwan and Tibet to Xinjiang. India should respect a one-China policy to the extent China respects a one-India policy. China makes light of the plentiful evidence against the JeM chief, India should highlight extensively documented human rights abuses against Uighurs. There is plenty of scope to squeeze Chinese business – without fear of retaliation since Indian business has already been squeezed out of China, yielding a yawning trade deficit of $63 billion (this figure has gone up by about 75% on NDA’s watch). It is now time to break out of another self-imposed taboo: India’s traditionally deferential policy towards China.

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