China’s statement: a lesson for India?


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying’s statement regarding Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s invective against Pakistan at the BRICS summit held in Goa, India, bears the characteristic maturity and restraint of a strong and powerful country. Highlighting Chinese opposition to any form of terrorism along with the need to delink it from “any specific country, ethnicity or religion,” Hua said that Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism should be respected by the international community. Clearly, Chinese support to Pakistan is a signal to India that its international drive to ‘isolate’ Pakistan would be met by fierce Chinese resistance. Much more importantly, it is also a reminder to India of the need to move away from churlish belligerence, and adopt a posture that befits a country that aspires to be a regional and global power. Through its actions, particularly the manner in which it started its vilification campaign against Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack, India has shown the world that it is incapable of responding to crisis in a constructive manner. Instead of acknowledging terrorism as a transnational phenomenon, fighting which would require help and cooperation from Pakistan, India chose to further alienate Pakistan and embarked on a path that made cooperation all the less likely.
Amidst all of this what seems lost on the Indian leadership is the need, in certain cases, to let long-term diplomatic gains trump over certain myopic constituency level concerns. It is no secret that Modi’s recent virulence against Pakistan was targeted at appeasing a particular constituency within India, which, conditioned by vitriolic notions of national pride and India’s supposed need to avenge the deaths of its soldiers by punishing Pakistan, cheered at the increasing hostilities and consumed the point-scoring and frenzied warmongering with alarming eagerness.
However, in choosing to pander to this jingoism within India, Modi lost out on the opportunity to chart out a new course of diplomatic engagement with Pakistan. Enjoying wide electoral support and having the ability to convince Hindu right wing in India of his policy direction, Modi had the wherewithal to initiate a revolutionary breakthrough on the terms of engagement between Pakistan and India by shifting away from mutually exclusive positions and finding common ground in order to resolve outstanding disputes. In addition to bringing peace and prosperity in South Asia, Modi’s could have set India’s name as a visionary country in the international comity of nations.