The Pakistani-Chinese Strategic Partnership Isn’t an Anti-Modi Alliance

India’s political system allows for a diversity of discourse, including about foreign policy, but constructive critiques should be realistic and based upon actual facts. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s, however, aren’t either of these.

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday while speaking before the Lok Sabha. According to the Congress parliamentarian, “The single biggest strategic goal of India’s foreign policy has been to keep Pakistan & China separate…You have brought Pakistan and China together. This is the single biggest crime that you could commit against the people of India.” This assessment was rebuked by multiple government officials and wasn’t even endorsed by US State Department spokesman Ned Price, who said that “I will leave it to the Pakistanis and the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to speak to their relationship. I certainly would not – would not endorse those remarks.” Some clarification is urgently in order so as to better understand this scandal.

The BJP dominates Indian domestic politics and doesn’t seem likely to leave the government anytime soon. The Congress-led opposition is fragmented and unpopular as proven by the several elections since Prime Minister Modi entered office in 2014. Opposition leader Gandhi seemingly believes that his movement’s electoral prospects are best served by trying to present itself as more “patriotic” in the Indian context than the BJP, but this is a misportrayal of its policies. Few believe that Congress would take a harder stance towards China and Pakistan than the BJP has, for better or for worse. His scandalous statement therefore comes off as very insincere and politically self-serving, which might even end up being counterproductive for his movement.

India’s political system allows for a diversity of discourse, including about foreign policy, but constructive critiques should be realistic and based upon actual facts. Opposition leader Gandhi’s, however, aren’t either of these. The Pakistani-Chinese Strategic Partnership long predates Prime Minister Modi’s 2014 election and therefore isn’t driven by any desire to oppose him personally. Although both have shared security interests stemming from what they regard as India’s threat to themselves, their ties are much more comprehensive than just that or even their military-technical cooperation in general. It’s enough to mention the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), to realize this.

It’s true that many Indians are of the perception that China and Pakistan coordinate their policies against their country, the same as those two suspect that India and the US are increasingly doing the same against them, but the former perception objectively predates Prime Minister Modi’s entrance to the national political scene while the latter arguably follows it but is beyond the scope of the present analysis. The point to pay attention to is that opposition leader Gandhi isn’t being sincere in his assessment of regional strategic dynamics, which is driven by his political self-interests. It would be one thing if he said that India’s regional policies under Prime Minister Modi contributed to the deterioration of ties with China and Pakistan and another entirely to say that “[they] brought [them] together”.

It’s simply not true and grossly misportrays Pakistani-Chinese relations in ways that ultimately mislead his targeted Indian audience. State Department spokesman Price’s refusal to endorse opposition leader Gandhi’s remarks speaks to the US’ newfound sensitivity about offending India’s incumbent government after counterproductively disrespecting it over the past 18 months and thus resulting in the recent recalibration of its multi-alignment policy away from its hitherto pro-American tilt and back towards its historiccloseness to Russia. Extending credence to his false assessment would have only pushed India further away towards the US and into Russia’s arms. In addition, it would have needlessly contributed to the further complication of already fraught Pakistani-US relations.

Opposition leader Gandhi would do well to realize the mistake that he just made. He exposed himself as being so desperate to return his movement to power beyond all odds in the present domestic political circumstances that he’s resorted to lying about regional strategic dynamics. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, especially Indians about their government and its policies, but facts should be sacred and inviolable. Manipulatively twisting them to serve one’s own political self-interests only discredits oneself because such false portrayals will always be debunked by the facts. Be that as it is, nobody should expect opposition leader Gandhi to change his tune anytime soon. He seems hellbent on saying whatever he wrongly thinks will earn him a few political points even if he ultimately discredits himself.

By Andrew Korybko
Source: OneWorld

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *