Modi gave a clear call to the entire global community to walk away from double standards on terror at the BRICS Summit 2016
Prof M D Nalapat
At the Eighth BRICS Summit in Goa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call to the entire global community via the five country grouping to walk away from double standards on terror. In effect, he gave his government’s full backing for what may be termed a Global Counter-Terror Alliance. However, Modi had an important caveat, which was that such an alliance could not include states that covertly or otherwise supported terror groups. As the Prime Minister implied, terrorist incidents are growing across the world because of what may be termed as “Terror Tolerance” by several countries in the calculation that such activity would serve selected geopolitical goals. However, at present, both the superpowers, China and the US, follow a policy of “terror tolerance”, in the process severely damaging the global war on terror in a manner that perpetuates this virus throughout the globe. In the case of the US, that country has assiduously nurtured terror organisations, especially during the non-conventional war against the since-dissolved USSR in the 1980s. At present, and persisting despite the nuclear agreement with Teheran, several organisations that are getting help from Washington are targeting civilians in Iran (an example being the Mujahideen-i-Khalq).
The Obama administration also supports fighters in Syria who are indistinguishable from ISIS and in fact include several elements of that organisation, it probably explains why President Obama least “winked and nodded” in 2014 when ISIS took over Mosul and other towns and cities in Iraq. This victory was courtesy the simple expedient of bribing Iraqi Army comanders into ensuring that the
soldiers under them decline to battle the invading force. Several such commanders have since then settled in the US and the EU with the money received through such bribes, from terror-supporting elements in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. In China’s case, that country gives
substantial assistance to the Pakistan
military although being aware that a
significant share of such bounty gets diverted to the terror groups that function as auxiliaries for GHQ Rawalpindi. Weeks ago, Beijing further shamed itself by continuing to block the UN from declaring international sanctions on Masood Azhar, a global terrorist protected by the Pakistan Army.
After decades of funding and equipping GHQ Rawalpindi and
therefore indirectly its terror auxiliaries in a full-blown manner, the US is moving away from that policy and towards the realisation that GHQ- controlled Pakistan has become an international menace that needs to be contained through global action. PM Atal Behari Vajpayee offered President George W Bush an alliance against
al-Qaeda in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, but both Vice-President Dick Cheney (who has for decades been decisively influenced by Saudi Arabia and its strategic prescriptions) and the CIA ensured that Bush had chosen Pakistan’s Army in a repeat of the Brezezinski-Casey Afghanistan strategy, despite that very policy having led to al-Qaeda. The influence of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other states with close links to the US petroleum industry ensured that the country they favoured geopolitically, Pakistan, was given preference after the 9/11 attacks over India’s offer to help. US policymakers excuse this disastrous decision by saying that India has never been a “reliable”
partner, as its words have far outrun its deeds. They point as evidence the refusal of the Vajpayee government to agree to the Pentagon’s 2003 request that a division of troops from the Indian Army be relocated to the Kurdish zone of Iraq, a zone that was at that time and even at present remains the most tranquil in the country. Policymakers in the US have had little confidence in the Indian bureaucracy, which they regard as lethargic and risk averse, and claim that at crucial junctures, all that they will get from Delhi will be talk, talk and more talk.
However, such a situation – although true to a considerable extent except on a few occasions during Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi—is no longer the case since May 26, 2014. Narendra Modi showed as Chief Minister of Gujarat that he could take decisions independent of the bureaucracy, and as PM the recently executed “surgical strike” on
Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir proves that Modi has the capacity to take decisions that are opposed by significant sections of the bureaucracy.
Counter-Terror Alliance, but also the will to do so. Modi’s performance at the Goa BRICS meeting showed this. The Prime Minister set aside the suggestion that matters such as terror get downplayed in a focus on economic cooperation, pointing out that security was a sine qua non of rapid economic growth, and that it would not be possible to have normal business relations with any country which either launched terror operations against India or facilitated another in doing so.
The message was intended for China, a country that could derive immense benefit from strong economic linkages with India, as for example through a future China India Economic Corridor (CIPC), which would make far more strategic sense than the improbable project of a China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is destined to be huge loss maker, even assuming that the security situation in Pakistan permits such a project to get completed. Had the
complete potential of India-China economic relations been utilised by this year, trade would have been $ 300
billion rather than $ 70 billion. There is scope within India for substantial Chinese investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, both to feed the domestic market and for export. Chinese banks would strengthen their portfolios by lending to stable and well managed Indian corporate, as these banks typically have a long-term loan horizon and low interest rates, unlike banks owned by western entities, which usually have a short horizon and charge (in India) a high interest rate. Once trade crosses $ 300 billion, irritants in the relationship such as border disputes are likely to get speedily resolved. Prime Minister Modi has shown willingness to engage economically with China,
allowing that country into the e-visa scheme and changing the security protocol for Chinese investment so that it becomes less restrictive. However, what is needed for China is to ensure that it does not feed the monster of
terrorism by giving special consideration to the Pakistan Army. Assistance to the people of Pakistan are welcome, but not to the military. The benefit of such a re-allocation of resources would be an all-cylinders
economic and commercial engagement with India, a situation that would create tens of millions of new jobs in both the countries.
In such a context, bringing around President Vladimir Putin of Russia was another example of the deft statecraft of Modi. Till now, China was looking at the US and ensuring that it would not get its way at the NSG by getting India
admitted. However, it is not the US that most wants to get India into the NSG but Russia also and blocking a move favoured by Moscow has a different
connotation from doing so with a move pushed by Washington. Hopefully, President Xi Jinping of China will be able to prevail over the Pakistan lobby in his military and foreign policy
establishment and ensure that China backs India in NSG as well as in the UNSC, the way Washington and Moscow already do. Getting the
BIMSTEC countries into the meeting rather than SAARC (an association made moribund by sabotage from Pakistan) showed both the regional goodwill enjoyed by Modi’s India as well as the potential for better connectivity ad
commerce within South and Southeast Asia once Sino-Indian relation warmed to the same level as the close friendship between Modi and Xi. A Global Counter-Terror Alliance needs India at its core to be a success. This country has unmatched expertise in fighting this
poison, and would be willing to share its knowledge and its capabilities with all countries that refuse to be passive
backers of terror by facilitating sates that are sponsorers of terror. This was Narendra Modi’s call at the Goa summit, and it has echoed across the globe.
(The writer is Senior Columnist & Academician. Presently Editorial Director of The ‘Sunday Guardian’)