Two Chinese actions on Saturday made it even clearer why New Delhi needs to work on Beijing to cut off Pakistan.
Diplomatic isolation of Pakistan beyond the region hinges on one thing. It is about winning over, at least managing Islamabad’s friends --particularly China-- than getting many countries support India’s legitimate concerns over cross border terrorism.
China extended the technical hold in the UN Sanctions Committee on the listing of Masood Azhar, the chief of militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, as a terrorist. The JeM has been blamed for the attack on Pathankot airbase in January.
Beijing also announced the blocking of a tributary of the Brahmaputra to facilitate work on one of its most expensive hydropower projects -- the Lalho project on the Xiabuqu River in Xigaze in Tibet.
The Pathankot attack had derailed the proposed resumption of bilateral talks between India and Pakistan and since then ties nosedived.
But the way veto-wielding China blocked Indian efforts at the UN Sanctions Committee to list Azhar in March told its own story. India had garnered the support of the US, France and the UK as the co-sponsor of the resolution. The listed individuals face asset freeze and travel ban which could cripple their capacity to indulge in terrorism.
Beijing scuttled the plans through a last-minute intervention and the resolution was put on technical hold. In their recent conversation US national security adviser Susan Rice told her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval that Washington would step up cooperation with New Delhi on getting individuals and entities in Pakistan targeting India listed in the UN sanctions committee.
For India, getting Azhar declared a terrorist is important. It would show how New Delhi gets the world to rally behind it in declaring individuals who use Pakistani territory to launch terror attacks against India. It is no brainer that China is all-weather ally of Pakistan.
The two countries are bound by ties that have huge economic and strategic underpinnings. However, India should use whatever is under its command to drive home the point to the Chinese that the fight against terrorism is for everyone’s sake.
China’s decision to extend the technical hold against designating Masood a terrorist wasn’t the only development to rile India on Saturday. Beijing’s announcement of blocking the tributary of the Brahmaputra for a hydropower project in Tibet is another matter of concern for India.
Blocking the Brahmaputra tributary and the way it was announced unilaterally is an indication that China is keen on undermining interests of India, a lower riparian state. The Chinese announcement came days after India reviewed the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty and decided to make use of water it is legally entitled to under the provisions of the pact.
India has no legally-binding treaty with China and Beijing has shown little interest in addressing New Delhi’s concerns on water issues emphatically in the past.
Though Sino-Indian ties had started with a bang under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it had lost the salience in between. Now New Delhi is picking up the threads, which includes the decision to have frequent interactions at the political level. While managing the best possible cordiality in ties, India can emphasis the point that the relationship is based on the two countries showing sensitivity to each other’s concerns. Two of Asia’s largest countries can work together with greater vigour in areas of mutual interests like economic cooperation.
Apart from China, India will have to manage the other countries effectively to ensure Pakistan faces international heat for sponsoring terrorists. They include managing the varied interest of the US in the region and Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia.