Pakistani mobs and their Khalistan peers have made a seasonal sport of targeting the Indian High Commission with stones and missiles with an indulgent authority looking on regardless. This cannot go on. Pakistani gorgons and groomers must not reduce diplomatic life to a dark parody. The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi issued an unusually strong statement: ‘This is the second time in less than a month that such an incident has taken place affecting the security and the normal functioning of our Mission and have strongly urged...the UK to take action against those involved...’
Indo-British relations are surely too important to be held hostage by an irresponsible, criminal jihadi underclass long addicted to a manic hatred of all things Indian. India and Britain share core democratic values and the rule of law. Their cultural pursuits are broad and deep, as are their shared business interests. Derailing this relationship for fluid vote banks is seldom the truest wisdom. The Indian diaspora in Britain are overwhelmingly law abiding and industrious, having prospered in the level playing field of Britain. They constitute a secure bridge between India and Britain, symbolising the best and most enduring aspects of a centuries-old relationship. To barter this for questionable short-term goals is folly.
The world is awash with jihadi terror organisations, thanks to a large extent to The Great Powers who hoped to profit from their activities. The present mess in Afghanistan, for example, is an offshoot of past American idiocy to arm jihadi groups in cooperation of the Pakistan military-intelligence nexus. Britain also played a part, as did China and much of the Arab world. Mark Curtis, in his book, Secret Affairs, has exposed Anglo-American collusion with radical Islam.
Imran Khan’s Kashmir fantasy
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, bit between his teeth, has sworn to fight India over Kashmir, whose people and land are closest to his heart. He promised to pursue his cause on their behalf in every international forum, every world capital. In a desperately forlorn bid to frighten his audiences with the spectre of an India-Pakistan nuclear conflict is counter-productive. There is more than a whiff of blackmail in such bizarre utterances.
Former US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in his recently published memoirs was scathing about Pakistan – home to jihadi terror groups - and its feckless rulers brandishing vast quantities of nuclear weaponry, even as their country is almost bankrupt, with little economic development in sight. General Mattis would have gained traction with critical scrutiny of decades-old US military aid to Islamabad and its calamitous consequences.
Blasphemy laws, forcible conversions of Hindu, Christian and Sikh women, rampant Islamism and an expanding insurgency in Balochistan, constitute Pakistan’s exponential crises. The solace of repetitive incantations, incandescent denunciations of India and much else in this theatre of the absurd will no more help Imran Khan than it did the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who called for a 1,000-year war with India over Kashmir and ended his days on the gallows of his country’s military..
Prime Minister Khan would do better to introspect, to meditate on Pakistan’s tortured past. The endless cycles of jihadi terrorism have brought neither peace, nor stability to rulers and ruled alike. Discords of every shape and form have taken root, with paranoid conspiracies of lurking Hindu and Jew waiting to strike. The present closeness of India and Israel represent, surely, the dynamics of self-fulfilling prophecy.
India, Russia ties surge to next level
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vladivostok, where he was Chief Guest at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum, was a thundering success. There was also the concurrent twentieth annual Indo-Russian Summit with President Vladimir Putin, now a striking feature of their bilateral relations. This time-tested relationship is best placed on its historical canvas. Its seeds were sown way back in 1950 when India’s envoy to the Soviet Union was the eminent philosopher and scholar, Professor Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who held the Spaulding chair at Oxford University. His presence aroused the curiosity of the Soviet titan Josef Stalin. Unlike poles attract, so said the great Isaac Newton. It certainly did in this case. Radhakrishnan addressed Stalin as ‘Marshal’, and was addressed in turn as ‘Professor’. The Cold War was in full swing, but the shrewd Stalin was quick to grasp that India’s democratic system in no way made the country a fellow traveller of the West. He told his Indian visitor that neither he nor Nehru were now perceived as hostile to Russia and hence he had passed an order that whatever help India needed of Russia should and would be met.
So it was through the 1950s and 60s, when Soviet economic and military aid laid the foundations of Indian heavy industry and defence, climaxed in 1971 when the US administration led by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger teamed up with Maoist China in defence of their client, Pakistan’s military dictator Yahya Khan over the East Pakistan crisis that led to an Indo-Pakistan war, Pakistan’s defeat6 and the emergence of a sovereign Bangladesh. The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship of 9 August 1971 with its famous article guaranteeing Soviet military intervention should India face Chinese or American attack, proved crucial. Communist giants Russia and China had fallen out in 1959 and subsequently became bitter enemies – like poles repel, according to Newton’s Law. Beijing even laid claims to Russian territory.The US and China became de facto allies in the 1970s and 80s against Russia, and to a lesser extent, against India as well. No major issue divided New Delhi and Moscow. The Soviet veto on Kashmir aborted Anglo-American plans to pressure India to give way.
Following Mr Modi’s Summit with President Putin, India announced a $1 billion credit line to the Russian Federation for the development of its immensely mineral-rich Far Eastern territory including Arctic exploration. Mr Modi explained: ‘My government has actively engaged East Asia as part of its Look East Policy... We will remain active partners in our cooperation,’ Mr Modi said. The stress on trade and investment – particularly in energy - is driven by mutual awareness that their economies must be closer aligned with the strategic areas of defence and security.
As India and Japan are close partners, it was surely a signal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [also an invitee to Vladivostok] to invest in Russia’s Far East, where Japanese industry has much to gain. All this in some measure offsets the Chinese economic presence there. Targeted by the United States, Russia and China have closed ranks without being allies. Their national interests often diverge. India, Vietnam and Indonesia are wary of China and close to Russia. Moscow and Bejing accept these ground realities, asking only that neither power do anything overtly hostile to the interests of the other.
During the Modi visit India and Russia signed 50 agreements, most related to energy exploration and procurement, including a specific MoU on LNG supplies to India, and a maritime route from Vladivostok to Chennai. India has contracted defence deals worth $14.5 billion. ‘Last year and today saw the emergence of of a tremendous portfolio of contracts [in excess] of all previous years at $14.5 billion. This is an impressive figure. It is a real breakthrough,’ said Dmitry Shugaev, Russia’s Director General of the Federal Service of Military Technical Cooperation. It underscored the India-Russia ‘privileged strategic partnership’ which lies at the heart of their bilateral relationship. Many Russian weapon systems will be manufactured in India including technology transfer; this will also apply to Russian spares. President Putin invited Prime Minister Modi to next year’s celebration of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany in the ‘Great Patriotic War.’ Adolf Hitler saw Russia as symbolic of Asia and thus pledged to annihilate it. The West today shares a broadly similar outlook. Almost all the post-war US wars of intervention have occurred in East and Southeast Asia, the Greater Middle East and North Africa. India’s ‘Look East’ policy is seeks to establish a just geopolitical balance.
Narendra Modi’s rise to national and international eminence, from the relative obscurity of Gujarat Chief Minister, is truly extraordinary. His understanding of geopolitics and India’s place in its architecture is impressive, displaying his ability to learn on the job.
The Times of India’s Indrani Bagchi suggested that India might be better off opting for France over Russia! Congress voices in Parliament took issue with Prime Minister Modi line of credit to Russia. With a nebulous understanding of the national interest, Congress, trapped in the by-lane, faces possible extinction.