Wednesday, October 4, 2017

US rejection of CPEC a boon for India

— By Editorial | Oct 05, 2017 08:20 am



It is happy augury that the Trump administration has thrown its weight behind India’s opposition to the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying it passes through a disputed territory, in obvious reference to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. It speaks well of the impact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made on US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis when he was in New Delhi recently on his first official visit to India.

Mattis’ observation that no country should put itself into a position of dictating the Belt and Road initiative was an indirect attack on China which is commending the One Belt One Road (OBOR) thrust to countries in the region to serve its own selfish purpose of appropriating the route to its trade and hegemonistic advantage. India had skipped the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) meet in China in May this year due to its sovereignty concerns over the nearly US$ 60 billion CPEC, a flagship project of China. Ideally, India should have apprized the US of the sinister designs of China in promoting OBOR through the Belt and Road Forum before the BRF meeting. India could perhaps have dissuaded the Americans from attending the meet and lending respectability to it. Nevertheless, nothing is lost until now.

Indeed, it is not just India that stands to lose from OBOR. The US too needed to ponder if it was advisable to provide China a short-cut to the sea where there is a danger it would seek to control the sea lanes and jeopardize trade of US and the rest of the world except on China’s conditions. As Mattis told members of the Senate armed services committee during a Congressional hearingin Washington DC, “In a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road’.” He added: “That said, the OBOR also goes through disputed territory, and I think, that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate.”

Mattis was responding to a question from Senator Charles Peters over OBOR and China’s policy in this regard. “The OBOR strategy seeks to secure China’s control over both the continental and the maritime interest, in their eventual hope of dominating Eurasia and exploiting natural resources there, things that are certainly at odds with US policy. So what role do you see China playing in Afghanistan, and particularly related to their OBOR,” Peter had asked.

This is the time for India to keep up its lobbying and pressure on the US to put an end to cross-border terror from across the border in Pakistan. In fairness to the Trump administration, it has been fairly relentless in its demand to close terror training camps and to stop infiltrating terrorists into Kashmir. If Pakistan persists, economic and political sanctions against Islamabad may be the only answer to deter it. Action must also ensue against Pakistan-based perpetrators of terror like Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and those of their ilk who have given Pakistan the tag of a ‘terror factory’ which it needs to shed through its actions

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