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Diplomatic cold

Diplomatic cold
Highlights

India’s decision to stay away from the Islamabad summit of SAARC is the latest in its diplomatic offensive. The heinous terror attacks in the recent past have literally forced India to take this extreme action. 

India’s decision to stay away from the Islamabad summit of SAARC is the latest in its diplomatic offensive. The heinous terror attacks in the recent past have literally forced India to take this extreme action.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj called for isolating Pakistan in her forceful appeal at United Nations. Some other countries joined India in boycotting the Islamabad summit. This can be perceived as the country’s diplomatic win over the hostile neighbour.

Besides, India is mulling over revoking of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Pakistan. India is also contemplating repeal of Indus water treaty. But, experts differ on the fallout of this diplomatic cold.

The BJP while in opposition advocated hot pursuit which means crossing the border to bomb the terrorist infrastructure in Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK).

Following the Uri attack, there was even a build-up, creating an impression that India may even retaliate. Earlier, in a virtual tit-for-tat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to Balochistan. What next is now the million dollar question.

The withdrawal of MFN will not hurt Pakistan as the bilateral trade between the two countries is just minimal. Indo-Pak bilateral trade stood at $2.61 billion or 0.41 per cent of India’s overall merchandise trade in 2015-2016. Exports to Pakistan accounted for $2.17 billion or 0. 83 per cent of the total Indian exports.

Similarly, imports from Pakistan were $441 million or 0. 12 per cent of the total imports to India. This indicates that the withdrawal of MFN status to Pakistan is not going to be any major economic pain for it to mend its ways.

Option of hot pursuit is just unlikely given its far-reaching implications for the region and the world alike. Summoning or expelling the envoys is a routine exercise at the time of bilateral tensions. Any tampering with the Indus water treaty has the potential to further foment trouble in Kashmir. To resolve one dispute, we cannot open another theatre of conflict.

India has effectively exposed Pakistan at the UN. But, it has only yielded Pak’s right to reply. The international community due to its strategic interests is not ready to heed India’s call for Pak’s isolation.

India’s Balochistan card is fraught with many consequences as China and Iran have stakes in it. Instead of isolating it, any possible misadventure in Balochistan will bolster support for the rogue State in this region.

The latest move to abstain from the South Asian summit shall further derail the regional grouping and ultimately result in euthanising the SAARC.

India is unlikely to gain from this as Chinese footprint in South Asia is expanding. The better course would have been strengthening SAARC to expose Pakistan.

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