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View: India has a sudden chance to change China'sPakistan math forever


For long, China and Pakistanhave combined to lock India in a negotiation trap.
There’s now an opportunity tocounter this playbook.
The first step is to leveragethe current consensus against terror emanating from Pakistan.
The challenge for India is toconvince the world that Pakistan cannot be part of any solution because it’s atthe heart of the problem.


The Balakot air strikes haveprovided a big opening for India, which, if exploited effectively, have thepotential to fundamentally alter the rules of play that have disadvantagedIndia in negotiations not just with Pakistan, but also China.


There’s now an opportunity tocounter this playbook. The first step is to leverage the current consensusagainst terror emanating from Pakistan, where the international community is nolonger willing to ratify a distinction between an act of terror in Kashmir andmainland India. Which is why there was no appetite for objecting to Indiaundertaking an anti-terrorist air strike on Pakistani territory.


This shift was best reflectedin the UN Security Council (UNSC) statement on the Pulwama attack. It was rareto have an incident in J&K in which security personnel were killed beingcondemned as an act of terror. This hadn’t happened earlier because Kashmir’s‘disputed’ status came in the way and the UN didn’t want to appear takingsides.


There’s no such inhibitionnow. Even China as UNSC permanent member, despite sending the draft of thestatement back and forth eight times, had to concede to the consensus among theother 14 UNSC members. Significantly, Beijing had to withdraw its objection tothe mention of ‘Jammu & Kashmir’ in the statement, instead of‘Indian-Occupied Kashmir’ or the ‘Indian side of Kashmir’.



No Longer Sweet F-16


India has the opportunity tobuild the case that foreign powers supplying weapons to Pakistan must now put acondition that they will not allow their weapons they supply to be deployedagainst India. And, if violated, Pakistan ought to attract a range ofpenalties. Any US action on Pakistan for using F-16s could set a significantprecedent. Which is why India must call for action, and not just denouncement,from the US.


Other powers like Russia,France, Britain and the rest of Europe mostly endorse the Indian perception onPakistan’s nourishment to terror groups. While some of them, like the US, maywant to keep the Pakistani army effective against the Taliban, they wouldsurely not like their ordnance strewn on Indian territory. Besides, all thesecountries have an eye on the growing opportunities in the Indian defence market.


The challenge for India is toconvince the world that Pakistan cannot be part of any solution because it’s atthe heart of the problem, one that has to be addressed collectively. And, inthat context, continuous pressure must also be brought on China to reassess itsterms of engagement with Pakistan. In short, there’s much to be done beyondBalakot to translate this action into strategic gains, rather than just quarrelover spoils.