The Bold Voice of J&K

Peace through strength is best policy

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DWARIKA PRASAD SHARMA

A key military adviser to Donald Trump during his historically unconventional and in-your-face election campaign has said that India will likely have an important role to play as a strategic partner in, among other fields, the Asia Pacific policy of the US.
Alexander Gray formulated several of the defence policies that Trump, now elected 45th President of his country, enunciated during his campaign trail. A key tagline of the pronouncements made by Trump was “peace through strength”. The Asia Pacific policy of the US to a large extent dovetails with the Look-East policy of the Narendra Modi government. The policy, parallel and complemental to the US policy, is aimed at containing the military and territorial ambitions of China in the region.
China is highly alarmed at the possibility of India formally joining an Asia Pacific alliance with the US, Japan and Australia. The current visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan has caused misgivings and consternation in Chinese official circles, as stridently expressed through their government-controlled media.
It would not be out of place to mention that Modi made it a point to stop over in Thailand to pay homage to the memory of its late iconic king Bhoomibol Adulyadej. Count on this Prime Minister not to miss any detail during his foreign visits (and domestic tours)!
Coming back to China’s worries, the state-run Global Times has “warned” that India would suffer in its trade with that country if it sided with Japan on the issue of the South China Sea. The newspaper said: “India may suffer great losses in bilateral trade if it joins Japan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to ask China to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling quashing Beijing’s claims over the disputed South China Sea.”
The article said that India wanted to “scale up its stand” on the South China Sea in “retaliation” for Beijing blocking its bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Scaling up the bitterness of its verbiage, the paper said: “India knows that it is not yet qualified for membership of the NSG, according to the organisation’s rules. China’s decision was simply a fulfilment of its international duties. It is preposterous for the Indian media and the government to scapegoat China as a troublemaker, and seek trouble by making more troubles.”
The article descends to almost childish face-making and cocking a snook at India. It says: “As a non-claimant to the South China Sea and an outsider that has no traditional influence in the region, India has been paying keen attention to any activity, because the country has adopted a ‘Look East’ foreign policy since Modi took office.”
Going back to the previous paragraph, note China’s claim that it blocked India’s entry into the NSG “simply in fulfilment of its international duties”. China is a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, yet till recently it was helping the rogue nation North Korea with its nuclear and missile programmes. Pakistan also substantially depended on missile components from North Korea. Defence experts had been expressing the fear that China’s strategic supplies to Pyongyang were being rerouted to Pakistan. So much for Beijing’s “international duties”.
A recent report of a UK think tank, titled “Pakistan’s strategic nuclear and missile industries”, alleged that China has been complicit in Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes. This allegation has come as no surprise to the strategic community in India as it had always been talking along those lines. Beijing, as expected, expansively denied any complicity, saying grandiosely that “China has a world- class catch-all control system to curb proliferation of proscribed technologies”. It further said: “What is mentioned in this report sounds so true, but it does not hold water because it evades a fundamental question-that is whether all the exports China made to Pakistan violate its legal and international obligations.” There is certainly a catch in this explaining away. Because the report is full of bell, book and candle listing of technical specifics about the alleged complicity, even the “inscrutable” country has felt constrained to say that the report “sounds true but is not true”.
During the meeting last week between India’s National Security adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiichi, the issues of India’s bid for NSG membership and Beijing blocking this country’s attempt at the UN to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Mehmood Azhar as an international terrorist were brought up. The two, whose meeting was described by Beijing as “informal”, agreed on high-level exchanges in the field of counter-terrorism. The dichotomy in China’s approach to fighting terrorism also came through when Beijing, after a joint military exercise with Pakistan on the two countries’ border, said that they planned to set up a joint counter-terrorism command system. This is a strange decision from the two countries, one which fosters terrorism to be used against India, and the other that winks at it lest it should displease its all-weather friend.
(The writer is a senior journalist)

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