Indian bravado on Pakistan is dangerously risky when the China border crisis is on

17 May 2022
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang observe a signing ceremony between officials from both countries in Beijing on 5 July 2013. Modi and his government do not mention China or the ongoing military challenge in public discourse.
NG HAN GUAN/POOL/GETTY IMAGES
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang observe a signing ceremony between officials from both countries in Beijing on 5 July 2013. Modi and his government do not mention China or the ongoing military challenge in public discourse.
NG HAN GUAN/POOL/GETTY IMAGES

Pakistan is in a crisis. Its economy is in the doldrums despite negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a fresh bailout and credit lines from Saudi Arabia to preserve its depleting foreign-exchange reserves. Its domestic politics is doing no better. The recently deposed Prime Minister Imran Khan has undertaken massive public mobilisation against the Shehbaz Sharif-led government, with the Pakistani Army and judiciary also getting singed in the bargain. The security situation, whether in Baluchistan or on the Afghanistan border, is precarious. It is threatening the progress of the prestigious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

To many Indians, this must be a matter of great satisfaction. It is schadenfreude. Not that India is in great shape either, with the economy in free fall, China still occupying territory in Ladakh after two years, Hindu-supremacist violence against Muslims across the country, and a proud democracy in debility. But considering India’s size, population and geographical location, the West wants New Delhi on its side against China, despite increasing discussions of India’s shortcomings in the global press. After United States forces pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving its people at the mercy of the Taliban, Pakistan lost the limited western interest it held.

In popular global discourse, India is no longer hyphenated with Pakistan. Despite New Delhi’s great desire, it would be silly to assume that India is hyphenated with Beijing either. India’s economy in terms of gross domestic product is one-fifth that of China’s, and Beijing’s geopolitical heft is second only to Washington.

Sushant Singh is a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and a visiting lecturer at Yale University. 

Keywords: Caravan Columns china Pakistan Ladakh border Indian Army
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