29th September 2016, 11:33 AM
Attempts at isolation
Less credit to India, more to us
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to take recourse to non-military measures against Pakistan to achieve his aims. The refusal to attend the SAARC summit along with Afghanistan and Bangladesh is a move towards isolating Pakistan. That Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives declined to join hands indicates that not all SAARC members are on the same page with India. The ongoing Pakistan-Russia military exercises further indicate the difficulties India is likely to face in isolating Pakistan. An Iranian naval fleet has already docked at Karachi port to participate in joint drills for three days. Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Iranian and Pakistani naval forces are expected to participate in the annual international naval exercise ĎAman-17í next year. Instead of taking sides, the US meanwhile is asking both the countries to resolve issues through talks. In the case of Afghanistan and Bangladesh Islamabad has to blame its own faulty diplomacy than credit India with causing antagonism towards Pakistan. Moral: Pakistan is more likely to be isolated through its own goal than by Indian efforts.
Withdrawing Pakistanís MFN status will be bad because it would imply a further distancing between the two countries. It will however by no means bleed Pakistanís economy as the countryís exports to India are a paltry $300-400 million. The trade balance in fact favours India as formal Indian exports to Pakistan amount to $2.4 billion.
The third measure India is meditating is a reappraisal of the Indus Water Treaty which amounts to using water as a weapon. While the measure might reassure Modi supporters in India, it displays shortsightedness on his part. In Pakistan the move will generate ill will against India which otherwise does not exist. It would strengthen the terroristsí narrative that India is trying to turn Pakistan into a desert. At a time when climate change is multiplying the ill-effects of water shortage in South Asia, there is a need on the part of the two countries to devise ways for better water management than prepare to fight water wars.