By Adeela Naureen / Umar Waqar
As reported by The Times of India, Australia and India signed seven agreements, including a landmark pact on access to military bases for logistical support, after the first-ever virtual summit between Modi and Scott Morrison on June 4. Since this virtual summit took place without traditional pomp and show, it did not get much traction in the Pakistani media, which was too busy with pre-budget mudslinging and the Cynthia Ritchie vs PPP bout.
It is considered pertinent to define the Quad and the US-Asia Pivot concept.
The Japanese PM Shinzo Abe came up with the idea of “democratic security diamond (DSD)” in December 2012. This DSD called for the formation of an alliance to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the Western Pacific with four of Asia’s most prominent maritime democracies — Australia, India, the US and Japan — forming the points of the diamond. The Japanese leader explicitly called on these states to join forces to oppose Chinese “coercion” and to defend peace, stability and freedom of navigation within the diamond.
A lot of water has flown through the Ganges since 2012, this DSD has become Quad and latest signing of agreement between Australia and India is a manifestation of the concept. This year India’s biggest ‘intellectual theatre’, the Raisina Dialogue focused on China and the Indo Pacific.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov delivered a talk at the Dialogue on January 15, 2020, and shared his views on how Russia views the shaping of the new global order.
Lavrov deliberated that the powers against the more democratic and multipolar world are trying to hamper the process of a more open and fair world. Talking of Eurasia, Lavrov highlighted that many great people are trying to make this region united and competitive. While replying to a question from the moderator on Indo Pacific, Lavrov candidly replied that the Indo Pacific was mainly meant to contain China and was definitely based on exclusion rather than inclusion.
The Dialogue kept on bashing China by including military commanders on topics like “Fluid Fleets: Navigating Tides of Revision in the Indo-Pacific”. This panel included the Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, the Chief of Staff of the Japanese Defence Forces, Vice Chief for Defence Forces of Australia, the Chief of Naval Staff of UK, and the French Deputy Director General for International Relations and Strategy. Ironically, the first questions asked by Yalda Hakim, the moderator, was, “Number one, two and three concerns for this region was China, China and China”.
The Indian naval chief’s response was that India was concerned about unusual activity of the Chinese Navy in Indian Ocean and initiatives like BRI and CPEC impinged upon Indian sovereignty. He conveniently forgot that the US has an armada of ships almost permanently placed in the region and UK and France have permanent bases in the Indian Ocean.
What did the South Bloc expect from China in view of its open bashing of China in Indian forums and changing status quo in IOK? The Chinese stance is clear: China regards it as a new great game to create a Rim-land around the emerging bloc of Eurasia and targets Russian and Chinese interests. The combined Russian and Chinese position on Indo Pacific is obvious. It’s based on exclusion of important countries in the region, goes against the spirit of SCO and Eurasia and actually fails to even define the term Indo Pacific.
Before Trump’s visit to India, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shingle had said, “It is a strategic partnership based on shared values and geared towards the 21st century. Whether in countering terrorism or in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific, India and the US have unprecedented convergence of interests.”
For South Asian countries, India has been a hostile neighbour and its current border disputes with China and Nepal have exposed her hegemonic designs. India has a consistent record of bad behaviour and creating border disputes with all its neighbours. As we have previously highlighted, India absorbed Hyderabad Deccan, Sikkim, Goa and Junagarh. It illegally occupies part of Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland. It has fought wars with Pakistan and China and militarily intervened in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India has also stationed permanent forces in Bhutan, and has water disputes with Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
The Indo-China conflict — China badly thrashed India in 1962. The Indo-China border does not exist, it’s the longest un-demarcated border in the world. As reported by the Indian media, Chinese troops (5,000 to 7,000) crossed the LAC in Indian Occupied Ladakh in April, although mainstream media broke out the news in mid-May. Indian military and political leadership is very quiet and looks to have been paralysed. Indian defence analysts like Col Ajay Shukla are criticising Indian leadership for the loss of face. While India was boasting about attacking G-B and AJK, it got a slap in the face from the Chinese Dragon.
The Indian Army is demoralised and there is a growing call for Rajnath Singh, Ajit Doval, Army Chief, Commander Northern Command and Commander 14 Corps to step down, as they failed to appreciate the Chinese intent and prepare a contingency plan.
Why China made such advances is a million dollar question.
It could be that India joining the Quad (US, Australia, Japan, India) and the Indo-Pacific alliance to become the US pivot in South Asia is considered a direct threat to China. China has decided to expose Indian military and political leadership through Ladakh so that this so-called Asia Pivot is put to rest. How can India play on behalf of the Quad in containing China when it cannot guard its own borders?
Two, Modi’s abrogation of Article 35(A) and 370 has created suspicion in China about Indian intentions in Aksai Chin. Wang Shida, Deputy Director of CICIR, wrote an article “India Blinded by Double Confidence”, claiming that following the abrogation of Article 370, “on the Chinese side, India ‘opened up new territory on the map’, incorporated part of the areas under the local jurisdiction of Xinjiang and Tibet into its Ladakh Union territory, and placed Pakistani-administered Kashmir within its so-called Union territories of J&K.”
Three, India directly threatened to attack AJK and G-B, thus threatening CPEC and Chinese vital interests in Pakistan.
Four, the Chinese may have tested Indian nuclear deterrence and exposed to the world that India was a paper tiger who could not defend its own territory; how then can it become a global player?
To conclude, a tectonic shift is occurring in Eurasia, the Indo Pacific alliance is coming of age. India, confronted with serious economic problems and collapse of its corporate sectors, is desperately seeking for a windfall from this opportunity. It has not only played into the US-led coalition in Asia but become a central piece in the new Rim-land being created against China. More ironically this Indo Pacific Alliance is represented by Western dominated militaries with the addition of India. Technically, France and the UK are already poised to join the Quad, and India may be slipping into this new trap of neo-colonialism and working against the interest of the region.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of Iblagh News.