The Indian raids along the Line of Control on September 29 were a turning point of sorts in India-Pakistan relations. There is no doubt that the move was a success domestically. It boosted the Modi government’s stock and allowed it to project itself as a decisive political force. On Monday, in fact, the Union defence minister credited the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s training for bestowing the Union government with the will to undertake the operation. In the sphere of foreign affairs, though, the success of the September 29 operation is rather more suspect.
While the United States did support India’s moves along the Line of Control to hit at militant groups, any further movement on Washington’s part has been slow in coming. In fact, the Obama administration was clear that it would not support a bill introduced in the US Congress on September 20 by Congressman Ted Poe, chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, calling for Pakistan to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
What has made matters worse is that China has come out openly in support of Pakistan. India, hamstrung with its unequal economic relationship and unable to think out of the box, has quietly looked on. Earlier this month, China blocked attempts at the United Nations to put curbs on Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar. At the Brics summit in Goa on the weekend, China halted India’s effort to name Pakistan-based terror groups, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Far from making progress on Pakistan, it seems China is intent on even weaning away Dhaka, firmly in India’s sphere of influence for the past decade. Beijing has signed multiple agreements with Bangladesh for investments worth more than $25 billion – making India’s $2 billion investment aim in Bangladesh look puny.
Nothing highlights India’s diplomatic failure more than Russia. India’s oldest friend, Moscow has moved increasingly closer to Pakistan, a country with which it had limited ties till now. Russia held military exercises with the Pakistani Army and stood by as China blocked India’s attempts to directly name Pakistan-based terror groups at the Brics summit.
The Modi government did a good job of converting the so-called surgical strikes into hard political capital. However, it should also concentrate some of its efforts on managing the diplomatic aspect of pinning Pakistan down in the global arena.
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