NEW DELHI, India – Politicians in India fear China’s growing role in Pakistan, long accused of being a terror hotbed, has “a malign effect on all of South Asia” and “throughout the world.”
Concerns regarding the relationship between China and Pakistan surface amid military tensions between China and India in the Doklam region that saddles Bhutan and China, where India has deployed troops.
Baijayant “Jay” Panda, a member of the Biju Janata Dal party (BJD) who serves on the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Finance and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, said China’s influence in Pakistan “has awful effects because they provide support to Pakistan to give them shelter on the issue of terrorists.”
Panda, who made the statements at the inaugural edition of the India-U.S. Forum at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi on Monday, added, “They are giving them cover in the United Nations so that known terrorists, terrorists known to the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and India and other countries, are not being designated as such because of China’s veto in the security council. So, it has a malign affect on all of South Asia, but really throughout the world.”
Dr. Shashi Tharoor, who serves as chairman of the External Affairs Committee of Parliament and is a member of the INC, said Pakistani terrorism is “a huge issue for us. It is the single biggest issue, and it’s the one remaining thing where we feel the U.S. is not totally on board with us because the U.S. has its own interests in Pakistan given that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires Pakistan’s logistic support.”
The issue of Pakistani terror, further emboldened through China’s influence, is also of grave concern to one of the leading members of India’s opposition Congress Party.
Pawan Khera, spokesman for the left-leaning Indian National Congress (INC), said Pakistan has a “nuisance value. There is a lot of incoherence in that region called Pakistan. Who do we talk to? The elected government often does not show the kind of legitimacy the military shows and the deep state shows.”
The United States aligned with Pakistan in 1947 in response to India’s alignment with Russia when the subcontinent was split into two countries after achieving independence. Since then, Pakistan has become a terrorist hotbed. The South Asian Terrorism Patrol (SATP) lists at least 32 “trans-national” Pakistani terrorist groups and 11 “domestic organizations,” including the Taliban’s presence in the nation through the Pakistani Taliban.
In June, the Pentagon identified Pakistan as “the most influential external actor” affecting the ongoing 16-year U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon also noted that Pakistan is against “heavy Indian influence” in Afghanistan, where the subcontinent has contributed significantly to civil society and educational infrastructure and has a good relationship with the Afghani government.
India is concerned not only with China’s aid to Pakistan, but with Chinese behavior near its own border.
Last month, India and China entered one of the worst border disputes the regional rivals had endured in more than 30 years when Bhutan, India’s close ally, discovered Chinese workers were extending a highway road on a 34-square mile territory that stands at the point where Bhutan, China, and India meet, known as the Doklam plateau.
India responded by sending troops to thwart the Chinese construction, but Beijing denounced the move and demanded that India withdraw.
The last time China and India entered a war over a border dispute was in 1962. The battle lasted for a month.
Experts on the matter believe this incident could result in a similar scenario.
On Monday, the Chinese government-owned Global Times‘s explicitly devoted its online home page to hostile and aggressive op-eds and articles against India.
One headlines read, “Contrary to India’s nationalistic fomenting, Chinese public largely calm over border tension.” Another read, “Unconditional withdrawal only way for India to save face.” And a third announced, “Indian elites stand to gain from advocating ‘China threat’ theory.”
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a stern warning to the “Middle Kingdom’s” neighbors, quoting the nation’s late communist leader Mao Zedong and saying China will never allow the loss of “any piece” of its land to outsiders.
“‘We absolutely will not permit any person, any organization, any political party – at any time, in any form – to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China,” Xi said, according to the Daily Mail.
Xi reportedly made the remarks during a speech marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and stated that China would never “swallow the bitter fruit of damage.”
However, the war path is not a favorable option for BJP’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who on Thursday called for patience and restraint in handling the Dokalam standoff with China diplomatically from Parliament.
“War is not a solution to anything. Even after war, there has to be a dialogue,” Swaraj reportedly said in response to President Xi’s demand that India’s army should prepare for a standoff. “So, have dialogue without a war. … Patience, control on comments and diplomacy can resolve problems.”
India and China are also disputing two other tracts of land: the Aksai China, which China owns, and the Arunachal Pradesh, which is under India’s control. Particularly problematic is the Sino-Pakistani border, which India does not recognize because it claims some of the land involved in it to be under its sovereignty.
Despite reluctance from previous administrations to distance the U.S. from Pakistan, the world is watching to see if the Trump administration will take the lead in this arena.
Tharoor sounded off on this, telling Breitbart News, “We do find it ironic, for example, that when Prime Minister Modi was in Washington, the U.S. administration declared a particular terrorist to be a globally recognized terrorist,” Tharoor said of the United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin. “But they didn’t say anything about the country that has harbored him, armed him, financed him, and supported him for 25 years; namely Pakistan. So there is a problem where you recognize people in Pakistan supports to be terrorists, but you don’t ever denounce Pakistan.”
Of America, he said, “The U.S. has, for too long now, made it pretty clear that they have to put their presence in Afghanistan and their need for Pakistani cooperation ahead of anybody else’s interests. And certainly, it seems that India’s concerns about terrorism come second to the U.S. interests of maintaining close relationships with the Pakistani generals.”