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China for securing peace


The Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui has on more than one occasions suggested that a trilateral summit involving India, China and Pakistan can be organised to find a solution to the stalemate in India-Pakistan relations. The summit can be organised under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), he suggested. Both India and Pakistan have recently become members of the SCO. However, reacting to Zhaohui's observations, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said that India-Pakistan ties are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for the involvement of any third party. China's keenness to help India and Pakistan resolve all outstanding matters emanates from its engagements with Pakistan, which figures prominently in the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative under which China has committed to invest $62 billion in developing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India has been opposing the Chinese project in Pakistan arguing that the CPEC passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and infringes India's sovereignty. India has also avoided participating in the programmes to mark the launch of OBOR initiatives. Both China and Pakistan are driven by economic compulsions to forge better ties with India. Of late, the economic environment in China has been sluggish and the GDP has been below 7 per cent. In view of the tariff restrictions imposed by the US on Chinese products, China is vigorously looking for new markets for its products. On the contrary, India's economy has been clocking over 7 per cent and is dubbed as the fastest economy in the world. With an eye on future trade, China has launched OBOR project that envisages creating a world-class transportation infrastructure by building strategic roads and ports in various countries. Under the OBOR, China also aims to set up a range of other economic projects such as power plants and manufacturing centres in these countries. The Chinese government and banks are funding these projects by providing loans which attract a higher rate of interest. Pakistan which is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the OBOR project is having trouble repaying the loans taken from China. Pakistan's economy is in a shambles and the country is on the verge of seeking a bailout from IMF. Economically, Pakistan is not in a position to undertake the CPEC projects even though it is being funded by China. It is in this context that China wants to pursue India to participate in the OBOR project. India's endorsement of the project would help China and Pakistan to go ahead with the CPEC projects and also provide the two countries the advantage of having India aligned to its strategic business network across the world. But India's stand has been that China cannot undertake any project in PoK as the region belongs to India and has been under Pakistan's control illegally. There are many unresolved issues between India and Pakistan, the foremost of them being the dispute over PoK which India maintains belongs to India. Another problem involving Pakistan and China is the handing over of the Indian territory in Kashmir to China. These two issues have bogged down India-Pakistan relations through the past many decades. While India has been ably maintaining a status quo on these issues, Pakistan has followed a policy of destabilising India through unrest and militant activities in India. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed uninterrupted intrusion of militants from Pakistan for the last three decades. The Pakistan military too has followed a hostile policy against India and has been engaged in unprovoked firing along the Line of Control to provide a safe passage to militants into India. Now, after following these tactics for decades, Pakistan itself is on the receiving end of the growing menace of terrorism. Indian security forces are present in overwhelming numbers in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir and they have helped a great deal in maintaining security and normalcy at the grassroots level, besides of course thwarting the designs of militants. In order to be a good friend of China, Pakistan needs to put its house in order. First of all, it needs to address the economic woes it's facing today. Fixing the economy needs some drastic changes in the way Pakistan functions as a state. To begin with, it needs to cut down on the military budget and then bring in prudent fiscal measures. All these initiatives are not only difficult to pursue but will also take longer than expected to show results. Every time, Pakistan is in trouble it seeks to normalise its ties with India. Now, even China has come forward to mediate between the two countries. But the problem is that Pakistan has never been consistent with its peace initiatives. The Kargil invasion in 1999 in the wake of Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Lahore trip is an example how some of the other institutions in Pakistan is always working against peace between India and Pakistan.


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