Tuesday, 7 July 2020

India: Chance To Re-Build South Asia Power Bloc

Updated: October 21, 2016 12:41 pm

Curtains on SAARC Summit in Pakistan has led to its complete isolation; its good riddance for its hatred of India made SAARC a social club; its objectives were served through bilateral and multilateral pacts between all other reasonable member  countries. Its Chinese obsession had become a divisive issue. It’s a great opportunity to create a newer version of SAARC with the rest of the member countries. Replace Pakistan with Myanmar.

Announcing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to not participate in the SAARC Summit in Pakistan, India’s External Affairs Ministry said there were other countries that had expressed reservations about participating in the summit amid heightened tensions over terrorism. “India has conveyed to current SAARC chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in internal affairs of member states by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad,” said the Indian Foreign Ministry. “That is why we have pulled out of the SAARC summit.”

The postponement was on cards ever since India started campaigning to isolate Pakistan diplomatically post-Uri killings by terrorists from Pakistan. Hotlines were used by the Ministry of External Affairs to contact embassies of other member countries to request boycotting the summit in Pakistan. India thus announced that given the situation created due to the Uri intrusion it was not possible to come to the summit.

23-10-2016According to eight-member body’s charter, the conference is postponed should any member state decline to participate. Following India’s announcement, Bangladesh said it was also pulling out. Afghanistan and Bhutan – both close Indian allies – followed suit. Sri Lanka and Maldives declared their boycott after India’s surgical attack.

Lastly, the Nepalese government, current chair of the SAARC, said it ‘unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expresses its solidarity in the global fight against terrorism’ and that ‘it believes an environment of peace and stability is essential for a meaningful regional strongly cooperation.’ Nepal thus too joined others to refuse participation.

Nepal initially said it hoped the issues would be resolved but could not comment on whether the summit would go ahead. “The host will take decisions regarding the summit,” said Jhabindra Aryal, joint secretary of Nepal’s Foreign Ministry.

Quite a few leaders of the eight SAARC countries expressed frustration after the last summit in Kathmandu with the slow pace of progress towards greater regional integration. “Pakistan has been interfering in our internal affairs for some time,” a senior Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry official told AFP, requesting anonymity. “That’s why we have pulled out of the SAARC summit.”

Under pressure to act after Uri attack that killed 19 soldiers, Modi warned Pakistan in a major speech that India would push to make it a pariah state. Pakistan denies any involvement in the September 18 attack, the worst of its kind in over a decade.

At the last SAARC summit in 2014, newly elected Modi shook hands with Nawaz Sharif, raising hopes of warmer ties. Just over a year later, Modi made a surprise Christmas Day visit to  Pakistan for a meeting with Nawaz Sharif. But those hopes were dashed following the Pathankot attack in which seven soldiers died, and peace talks have been on ice ever since.

Diplomatically, it may not be a big deal for Pakistan given that SAARC is widely perceived as ineffective, although since Modi becoming prime minister bilaterally there have been a few instances of cooperation in the spirit which the Founders expected members to have for each other. But the rejection of seven-member countries not to attend the summit in Pakistan is a sure sign of it not being in a comfortable place in its own region. And India having scored a symbolic and a political victory, Pakistan will have to concede that India is central ro the SAARC’s success?

The situation is ideal presently for the seven countries to either form a new body to replace SAARC or in place of it. The reason for the need for a powerful bloc in South Asia has been obvious from the impact of bilateral or multilateral pacts between member countries on international relations.

South Asia is now, because of the economic and trading prospects, geo-politics in the region and its global importance connecting west and the Far-East, has become the epicentre of all the political tremors in the world.

Aganist such a backdrop, if India can broker a new body and rope in Myanmar, it can head a powerful body with immense bargaining power.

All this is based on the assumption that either Pakistan has lost its ability to create hurdles or has fragmented into three parts and lost its ability to create nuisance. But the way trending it will be declared a rogue state and slapped with all sorts of sanctions. ‘Pakistan and India cannot co-exist,’ said a Major-General sombrely. Why? The Pakistan army has been continuously selling the idea of ‘insecurity from India’ among the people, giving defence the top most priority while relegating critical issues like education and health to the bottom.

Pakistan has been continuously and successfully perpetuating lies through its media and books. According to their textbooks, the history of Pakistan begins with 871 AD, as Islam enters the Indian subcontinent.

Recently, taking a note of the Kashmir unrest, Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, nominated his 22 parliamentarians as special envoys to visit major countries across the world and rake up Indian atrocities and human rights abuses in Kashmir. ‘An attempt to appease the disgruntled parliamentarians by sending them on a world tour couldn’t hide behind the Kashmir curtain, but became a laughing stock as the parliamentarians when asked about Mehbooba Mufti, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and its ethnicity and map on a live show were mum asking, “Who is Mehbooba?”

Nawaz Sharif in fact went on to address the United Nations General Assembly 2016 with Kashmir as his main agenda, another attempt to divert the immediate public attention from core issues, such as water and energy crisis, and most importantly, the Panama leaks, Sharif’s latest dilemma.

Home to the world’s most wanted terrorists, Pakistan is one of the biggest victims of terrorism too. According to an Amnesty International report, Pakistan is one of the world’s five worst countries witnessing the highest number of human rights violations. However, Pakistan, on international platforms, continues to be garrulous on Kashmir, but boorish towards Baloch, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir issues. The country is hopping on its endless animosity with India, which compels one to raise the point – what’s wrong with the nation?

‘Besides sponsoring terrorism since 1947, as part of its foreign policy, Pakistan is obstinate, keeping public affairs unresolved and unaddressed and leaving its origin – vague, weak, gloomy and tense that otherwise could have played a crucial role in pushing the nation forward,’ a columnist writes.

Stability comes from the identity – who you are? The tragedy of Pakistan is that the more one reads about the country, the more confused he or she becomes. This is precisely because of the blatant lies, spoken in media and purposely written in their textbooks. The story of the genesis of Pakistan in the state textbooks is no different.

The 36 years of direct military rule not only weakened the very existence of the civic society, but in its quest to define the ideology of Pakistan and justify the genesis for a greater cause, Pakistan Army-led curriculum has gone to the extent of writing a fiction with some facts hanging here and there, and later declared the text the ‘History of Pakistan.

‘Pathological liars’ as the eminent political scientist and a professor at Center for Peace and Security Studies, at Georgetown University, Christine Fair prefers to call, Pakistan didn’t stop here, but blended the content with Islam and Arabic culture while omitting their real past – their Indian origin – snubbing the fact that the world is watching them.

According to their textbooks, the history of Pakistan begins with 871AD, as Islam enters the Indian subcontinent. The irony is that they have used the word ‘Pakistan’s Kingdom’ instead of Mugal’s. The books are so confusing that many of the countrymen call themselves descendants of infamous barbarians Ahmed Shah Abdali, Bin Qasim, Mughals and Taymor Lung. The books make them believe they have ruled India, Bangladesh and other countries for 1,000 years. And, they are here to rule.

This belief, exploited by Generals, has been the ruin of Pakistan. Bhutto told soldiers one Pak bullet kills 10 Indian jawans. And thus it fought four wars and now has taken to Uri kind of covert attacks. And it is now in danger of being declared a rogue state.

Thus with Pakistan fast rolling down to self-effacement India has the best opportunity to broker a powerful  south Asian bloc and head it.

by Vijay dutt

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