India has had tense relations with all its neighbors. Being a giant of a country, India likes to treat its smaller neighbors as its satellite countries, dependent on its goodwill and largesse. India demands that they follow the dictates of India’sforeign policy. Countries that are landlocked (Nepal and Bhutan) and Maldives and Bangladesh who are beholden to India for trade and security have hardly felt encouraged to follow an independent foreign policy. Sri Lanka has shown some degree of independent foreign policy. Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that has questioned India’s hegemonic behavior in the region and stood up against its designs.
The Kashmir dispute remains unresolved mainly because of India’sobstinacy. Now India is creating grounds under the year-long clampdown to obliterate the identity of the Kashmiri people. India has not only divided occupied Kashmir into two union territories, and introduced measures and laws to bring about massive demographic changes but also snatched the means of livelihood of the people of Kashmir. Pakistan refuses to accept India’s high-handed tactics to forcefully subjugate the entire population of occupied Kashmir. Tension with China is high after the Galwan river skirmishes in the disputed Ladakh region. India is very upset with China over expanding relations with other South Asian countries. Bhutan and Nepal as a result feel emboldened and have begun to defy India.
India’s ambition to emerge as a global power predates the nuclearization of South Asia
In fact, the acquisition of nuclear weapons was one of the means to achieve this objective. The demise of the former Soviet Union provided India a much-wanted opportunity to assert its leadership credentials and project itself as a credible rival to China. This nevertheless required building India’s image of a responsible nuclear power and significant modernization of its military. The engineered perception that India is a rising global power may have led to unrealistic expectations and given India a false sense of entitlement and superiority. The rise of Hindutva in India’s body politic under the current BJP government and its coercive military behavior against almost all of its immediate neighbors are an outcome of India’s unchecked global ambitions. India faces serious structural deficiencies and if it continues to pursue its misguided ambitions, it may lead to further embarrassment.
India has tweaked its foreign policy that has brought warmth to the erstwhile cold relations between India and US. The India–US defense deal signed during President Trump’s visit to India in February 2020 is yet another milestone in the US-India Strategic Partnership. The US has designated India as a net security provider and as a pivot of the US Asia Pacific strategy. For China, the prospect of facing the
American military at sea and the Indian military along its southern border and in the Indian Ocean become much more real and risky with defense cooperation between the United States and India. Such cooperation will not only damage the security and stability of China’s western border while undermining China’s strategic influence in South Asia, it will also hinder China’s power projection capability in the Indian Ocean with the potential to threaten China’s energy supply routes from the MiddleEast. Regionally and globally, the US endorsement of India’s leadership status seeks to dilute and diminish China’s soft power and encourages other countries like Japan and Australia to follow suit in seeking closer ties with New Delhi.
India and the world order
Thus, India feels it has positioned itself in the center of a rapidly transforming world order. The question, however, is whether India has the capability to play the kind of policeman role the US seems to have assigned it in Asia. Nevertheless, India takes encouragement fromUS to assert itself in its neighborhood as well as in the region.
Pakistan has been exploring all the avenues that would maintain peace on its borders with India. Pakistan does not wish to engage in hostilities with India and has imaginatively avoided taking the Indian bait that might lead to military confrontations between the two nuclear states. It has made several gestures and overtures in the interest of ensuring peace and stability in the region. On the other hand, India perceives Pakistan’s gestures for peace as a sign of weakness and has been aggravating the security situation on the Line of Control to suck the region into a disastrous full-fledged war. Despite a remarkable show of restraint, Pakistan has effectively demonstrated its capability to respond to any aggressive Indian designs.
However, hawkish Indian leaders led by the Hitler reincarnate Modi do not consider peace as their priority as they are driven by an ambitious and exclusionary Hindutva mindset. It would be best for Pakistan to adhere to a coherent strategy of its own, that is aligned with its Identity as a nation-state, and its history as a civilization, as it suffers the ambitions of a rising Hindutva-fueled intolerant and aggressive India. The world must pay attention to the fact that the Indian nuclear arsenal has now fallen in the hands of the fascist BJP government which is supported by the well-known extremist organization RSS and could be used in a false flag operation to blame Pakistan.