The prudent management

Modi-Xi meet

Brij Nath Betab
Now you can leave please, Indicated a senior official to me, when I was covering a VVIP meeting, as a T V journalist long back, and the cameraperson accompanying me had recorded the opening remarks by dignitaries of both the countries. This is a routine when two heads of state or heads of two governments of sovereign countries meet. The idea is to keep state secrets out of bounds for the press as sometimes contagious issues are deliberated and varying and conflicting views are presented and disagreements are visible. This is common with regard to relations between two sovereign countries. Anything leaked to press may worsen the issues and impact the outcome of the visit. Press is briefed and government version is given for wide publicity. This is the state craft. But despite this the opening remarks are very significant as they speak the mind and suggest the mood. Chine president Xi Jinping’s opening remarks at the delegation level talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mamallapuram on Saturday that the Chinese News Papers had published a lot of News articles about the friendly relations between India and China, to my mind, specify the Chine’s President’s mind and his body language of not wearing a Coat and a tie when Indian Prime Minister dotted in traditional Tamil attire was taking the guest around Mamallapuram, ‘Like a tourist Guide’, spoke of his intent of ” furthering friendly relations’. This was in response to Prime Minister Modi’s opening remarks that the two countries have two thousand years old cultural ties. Needless to say that cleaning the sea beach early morning by the Prime Minister was an ample indication to his visiting guest and to the world as to how relaxed he was. Between two friendly countries this would be normal but India and China have ‘disputes’. So what does Xi Jinping’s opening remark mean? It means he wants to build good relations with India. His remark that we are important neighbors may have made it further comprehendible. The news that two countries have agreed to set up a mechanism for issues relating to trade and investment is a welcome step as India is facing trade deficit with China. However Prime Minister Modi’s remark that we will manage all issues prudently is something one needs to understand in proper perspective. The major issue is China’s support to Pakistan. One needs to have ‘Hazmola to believe the official spokesperson saying that ‘Kashmir was not discussed’. This again may be state craft but our problem with China is not only Doklam and trade deficit. Kashmir is our core issue where we are facing Pak sponsored terrorism and China is Pakistan’s ‘Friend’. Xi recently has agreed to give Pakistan three hundred Tanks along with technology to build them. The news came when Xi was in India. This is a serious issue. And not discussing Kashmir, despite talking threat of terrorism is something intriguing.
What does the government want us to believe? China may have invited our Defense Minister for talks and India may have focused on promotion of tourism between the two countries but those are not our concerns of priority.
Our primary concern with China is Kashmir which is burning; Kashmir that has been ruined by not only moral but also logistic and monetary support by Pakistan. It may be said that by not discussing Kashmir, we may have given the notion that it is a bilateral issue. We may have belittled Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. But the fact remains that China is a factor with regard to Pakistan. And Pakistan is fomenting trouble in Kashmir. Did Imran Khan not rush to China to discuss Kashmir before Xi Jinping was to visit India? Did China not issue a statement saying that ‘China is watching Kashmir and will back Pakistan on core interest’? What is Pakistan’s core interest? It is widely known that from UN to Bhutan, China is always scuttling India’s interests. And if one can remember it correctly, in 1998 Gorge Fernandes, the then defense Minister labeled China as ‘potential threat number one’. One cannot deny that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988, ‘had broken the ice’ as it was the first visit by any Indian Prime Minister in 34 years. But before his visit India had shown much strength by consolidating its position at Sumdorongchu, where ‘Indian army placed the troops in dominating heights’. Since then there have been many occasions when the two armies came eyeball to eyeball, but prudent handling created history in the relations between two countries that not a single bullet has been fired after 1962 between the two armies. China as we know today has expansionist tendencies and policies. It is here that Pakistan is important for them. Pakistan was among the first to recognize Peoples republic of China regime. The relations between the two countries began in 1951 . Since then China has not only supported them but also given military and economic aid. In return Pakistan has handed them a good portion of Pakistan occupied Kashmir and a major chunk of land has been kept at their disposal for the construction of China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC. Pakistan has providing land in Gilgit- Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh and China is providing them two hundred and thirty million dollars to build a new international airport at Gwadar. All the land has been given despite locals sacrificing their lives in protest against the grant of land. Chinese engineers and workers have been kidnapped and killed as part of resentment, but Pakistan government is providing the security at the expense of state exchequer. And it is from Gwadar that China ‘can observe activities of Indian Navy around Persian Gulf. Pakistan no doubt is important for China but President Xi Jinping’s visit has also a setting. Both Pakistan and it’s sponsor China were ‘defeated’ at the UNSC when it took up Kashmir at a closed door meeting.
After that Indian Prime Minister Modi has just returned from USA, where President Trump publicly expressed his personal liking for his ‘Indian Friend’ and the bonhomie between the two world leaders certainly irked Pakistan and its Prime Minister whose disastrous performance at the UNGA made him an object of ridicule in his own country. With the successful visit of Modi to America, if China’s friend is ruined, China itself is bound to have ‘felt the heat’. However in international diplomacy a different tactics is engaged. And every country has its own priorities with regard to foreign policy. There was a time when the relations between India and China were based on five principles, Panchsheel, but that did not work according to the Indian expectations, despite India not allowing Tibetans any political space. However that was a different period. Today India is much stronger, both in terms of economy and international clout. Today the world stands with us particularly influential Muslim countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported us on Kashmir. With France, Germany, Japan and America on our side we should not hesitate in calling a spade a spade. But then our Prime Minister says India ‘will manage all issues prudently’. May be the two countries are not interested in giving out the details as yet. For some time no one may be able to know what transpired between the two leaders during five and a half hours of one to one deliberations. The fact is that Narendra Modi, in the words of U S president is a ‘tough negotiator’ One can only presume that Modi’s plogging at the sea beach at Mamallapuram was representational of India China relations, where Pakistan needs to be picked up and dumped.