New Regional Geopolitics

INDIA on Wednesday rejected references to Jammu and Kashmir in a China-Pakistan joint statement and called on the two countries not to interfere in India’s internal affairs or to alter the status quo in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan in an obvious reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passing through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The response from India came three days after China and Pakistan issued the joint statement following a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing on February 6. The statement opposed “any unilateral actions” in Jammu and Kashmir in an apparent reference to India’s 2019 decision to withdraw the semi-autonomous status of the region.

India reiterated that “the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh have been, are and will always remain integral and inalienable parts of India. “We expect the parties concerned not to interfere in matters that are internal affairs of India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

China-Pakistan statement and response to it from New Delhi have come in the context of a new great game that has started begun between America and China. On the other hand, there is a growing congruence between China and Pakistan in their approach to the regional problems. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has aligned the interests of the two countries. And this alliance is something that has made New Delhi uncomfortable. India has opposed the CPEC on the ground that it passes through the Pakistan Administered Kashmir which India says belongs to it by virtue of the accession treaty signed by Maharaja Hari Singh.

On the other hand, Washington's priorities with India are no longer regional in their nature but their scope is the larger geopolitics. In recent years, the US-India engagement has also been about the remaking of the global power equation with India not only being recognized as a global power in its own right but also as a countervailing force to China, the world's No 2. It goes without saying that India's 1.3 billion population with a value addition of a burgeoning middle class has become an ultimate attraction for the west.

The US exit from Afghanistan is at the heart of this changing geo-political map of the region. It has made regional alignments more complicated. But the US new policy hardly takes on board this complexity. The only way that this destabilizing situation can be effectively tackled is for the regional powers including India and Pakistan to get together and find a comprehensive solution to the region’s problems. But it has to be a solution that also addresses the core concerns of the neighbouring countries and takes care of their interests.

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