India's rise as a global counsel at Samarkand summit
D.C. PATHAK (Source: IANS) | 27 Sep, 2022
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The post-Cold War world - no more divided in rival camps created by two
competing superpowers confronting each other for military and
ideological reasons - ironically witnessed the rise of a new global
terror primarily targeting the US, from the same 'geographical pivot of
history' called Afghanistan that had earlier caused the demise of USSR,
the other superpower.
Success of the anti-Soviet armed
campaign in Afghanistan that was conducted on the slogan of Jehad,
resulted in the establishment of the first Emirate of Taliban in Kabul
in 1996. The latter carrying the historical legacy of the anti-West
'Wahhabi revolt', soon bared its fangs against the US, compelling the
latter to work for its ouster.
This in turn laid the turf for
9/11 - the trans-Atlantic attack on the Twin Towers carried out by Al
Qaeda that had worked in close collaboration with the Taliban in
The 'war on terror' that followed first in
Afghanistan and then in Iraq, saw India firmly coming on board with the
US in its offensive against the Islamic radicals and consistently
supporting the US at all fora in the call for global action against
Islamic extremists and radicals.
Pakistan was a reluctant partner
of US in the 'war on terror' playing a duplicitous role there and it
later pretended to use its outreach to Taliban for mediating for peace
at Doha talks to facilitate withdrawal of American troops from
The US put up with the reinstallation of Taliban
Emirate in Kabul in August 2021 on a flimsy assurance from Taliban that
it will not permit Afghan territory to be used for another 9/11 type of
India was left to deal largely on its own with the
increased danger of cross-border terror from the Pak-Afghan belt in
Kashmir and elsewhere and the added threat to national security arising
from the Sino-Pak axis that entailed military liaison between the two
hostile neighbours of India.
The geopolitical scenario was also
soon affected by a contentious relationship between the US and Russia
that cropped up on the advent of Joe Biden Presidency putting India's
foreign policy on test.
Russia's military operation against
Ukraine added to the challenge for India, of steering its national
strategy. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, this nation has
successfully tackled the new demands on security and economic fronts
facing the country - with consistency, clarity and a new-found political
will - and enabled India to steadily emerge as a global power and in
particular establish itself as an Asian giant.
The strategy that
Prime Minister Modi formulated, with the able assistance of his NSA,
revolved around a firm declaration that there will be no talks with
Pakistan until the latter renounces use of terror as an instrument of
state policy in respect of India, bilateral relations with all based on
mutuality of security and economic interests and special emphasis on
India-US friendship as an expression of natural bonding between the two
largest democracies of the world without prejudice to the valuable
India-Russia relationship that has been built over years to serve, among
other things, the need for India to have a dependable source of modern
Russia, in fact, has been the biggest
supplier of arms to India in recent years. Besides, India has proved its
total commitment to economic development of all in the interest of
world peace. What is remarkable about this national strategy is that it
rests on Prime Minister Modi's personal equation with both US President
Biden as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
enabled India to play the role of a global counsel in the sensitive
geopolitical situation created by the prolonged Ukraine-Russia conflict,
in which the US and Europe have both got deeply involved in support of
It is in this context, Prime Minister Modi's
participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit at
Samarkand in Uzbekistan - where Iran joined in the group of Russia,
China, India, Pakistan and the four CARs - established the stature of
India as a world power and as a major influence on global geopolitics.
happened since India kept Pakistan and China in their place, used the
bilateral meeting between Putin and Modi to further strengthen their
mutual ties while maintaining the stand that the Ukraine-Russia military
conflict should end and peace negotiations should resume, pushing
economic cooperation in the region on top of the agenda.
Samarkand summit has enhanced the international standing of India and
added to the stature of Prime Minister Modi as a world leader.
the summit, Modi projected India as a great supporter of SCO, reminding
the participants that the group accounted for 40 per cent of the world
population and 30 per cent of the global GDP, and focused primarily on
India's potential as a resurgent economy for contributing to the
economic cooperation among the member countries.
He informed the
summit that India has established more than 70,000 startups, including
over a hundred unicorns, and announced the formation of a special
working group on startups and innovation to share India's experience
The Prime Minister talked of India being on the way
to becoming the manufacturing hub of the world with a strong and young
workforce that made India competitive and disclosed that India has
already become the most appealing destination for medical and health
tourism and a globally acknowledged centre for traditional medicine.
of the food and energy security, he referred to the disruption of
global supply chains due to the Covid pandemic as also the
Ukraine-Russia military conflict and highlighted the need for
establishing connectivity among the member nations through grant of
transit facility - drawing attention indirectly to the impediment caused
by Pakistan to the efforts of India to rush food supplies and
humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
Modi also gave a call for enhancing food security by promoting production of millets following the example of India.
short, India came off as a lead player in SCO for boosting all-round
economic development - this goes squarely to the credit of Prime
A great outcome of the SCO summit was the
in-person bilateral meeting between Putin and Modi that further cemented
This happened even as Modi maintained that
'this is not an era of war' and repeated his call for peace negotiations
between Ukraine and Moscow to end the conflict since, according to him,
the world favoured 'democracy, diplomacy and dialogue'.
reasonable response was to tell Modi that he understood India's concerns
and conveyed Russia's willingness to hold talks.
It may be mentioned here that Putin had called Russian action in Ukraine a military 'operation', not 'war'.
Minister Modi's stand on Ukraine-Russia conflict remains consistent
with the view that concerns of both sides have to be addressed - it
establishes India's wise counsel, retains the trust of the conflicting
sides in India's Prime Minister and does not adversely affect Indo-US
The handling of Indo-Russian relations has a bearing
on India's strategy of tackling a hostile China. India is prepared to
deal with PLA on the borders, is actively engaging with Quad to check
Chinese aggressive designs in the Indo-Pacific and thus safeguard Indian
Ocean too, and is fully supportive of the US-led efforts to promote
economic cooperation to counter the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative
(BRI) - a project designed by China to extend its influence in Asia and
Chinese President Xi Jinping would not like India to
move totally to the US side, particularly after the eruption of American
hostility against China on the issue of Taiwan, and at the same time
would like to strengthen the China-Russia axis in the context of
developments pertaining to Ukraine.
India's approach to the
Ukraine-Russia conflict helps to ensure that China-Russia bonds do not
affect India's national security interests.
India does not mind
omission of any reference to the relevance of the application of UN
Charter in the context of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the joint statement
of the summit, since a direct negotiation between the two sides,
possibly with the informal help from a mutually acceptable friend like
India, would be better than a formal third-party intervention there.
India did not show any keenness for a bilateral meeting between China
and India at Samarkand, President Xi for his own reasons publicly
welcomed India as the host of next year's SCO summit.
India has a lot to feel satisfied about the joint statement of the summit called Samarkand Declaration.
statement advocated respect for the rights of people to independently
and democratically choose political and socio-economic development and
reaffirmed the principles of mutual respect for the sovereignty,
independence and territorial integrity of states, non-interference in
internal affairs and non-use of threat of force, as the basis for
sustainable development of international relations.
for India, the summit expressed deep concerns over the security threats
posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism in all its forms and
manifestations, and strongly condemned terrorist acts around the world.
called for implementation of the programme of cooperation among SCO
countries for countering terrorism. It held that the most important
factor for improving and strengthening security and stability in the SCO
region is the speedy settlement of the situation in Afghanistan by way
of providing an inclusive government there and making it free of
terrorism and drugs.
Considering the known fact that the return
of the Taliban Emirate in Kabul was made possible because of the total
support of Pakistan, the Samarkand Declaration was meant to identify the
Pak-Afghan belt as the breeding ground of Islamic radicals,
notwithstanding the familiar plea of Pakistan - repeated by Prime
Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the summit - that Pakistan is itself a victim
India has every reason to feel happy that its
stand on both economic development of the world and international
security was fully vindicated at the SCO summit.
(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)
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