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Focus 360 on Editorials- March 4

The road to China is through Kabul – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/the-road-to-china-is-through-kabul/article17404919.ece

  • New possibilities for regional cooperation are emerging, which India should not hesitate to explore
  • Afghanistan has again emerged as a platform providing new possibilities on the India-China cooperation front.
  • After the strategic dialogue, which was divided into five sub-groups of which Afghanistan was one, focussed significantly on the country. China expressed admiration for India’s developmental work in Afghanistan amidst a broader understanding that New Delhi and Beijing need to strengthen the government in Kabul.
  • This development comes against a backdrop of the growing threat of the Islamic State (IS) to China. A rattled China is calling for greater global cooperation against the IS, which is also a reason why China has joined ranks with Russia in a bid to engage the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • China is worried about the spillover effect of continuing instability in Afghanistan.
  • The impact of Afghanistan’s destabilisation will be felt not only in Kashmir but also in Xinjiang where the East Turkestan Islamic Movement is active. Moreover, China’s mega investment plans in Pakistan are predicated on a measure of regional stability.
  • Stand of US
      • With the Donald Trump administration yet to clarify its position on Afghanistan, and with it looking unlikely to add more American troops to the depleting reserves of Western forces in the country, it is not surprising that China is keen to engage India,
  • Divergences on Afghanistan- Issues between India and China
    • There remain some fundamental divergences in Sino-Indian positions on Afghanistan and broader counterterrorism postures
    • China putting on hold the inclusion of JeM chief Masood Azhar’s name in the United Nation’s list of global terrorists.
    • For long, India sought to include Afghanistan in its discussions with China on counterterrorism. The Sino-India counter-terrorism dialogue was initially viewed as a promising bilateral initiative for dealing with terrorism. But nothing of consequence emerged from these dialogues
    • For India, the main source of terrorism is Pakistan where the state machinery continues to view terrorism as a legitimate tool of national policy. For China, Pakistan is an important asset in its South Asia policy and an all-weather friend.
  • But as concerns started rising in the region about the consequences of the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014, China reached out to India but the reach was not fruitful enough.
  • This too couldn’t go far as China continued to emphasise that its relationship with Pakistan was far more important than a regional approach on terrorism with India.
  • New Delhi should not expect Beijing to change its Afghanistan policy significantly to suit Indian interests.
  • The road to stability in Kabul lies through Rawalpindi, and China has few incentives to challenge the Pakistani security establishment’s traditional adversarial mindset vis-à-vis India that continues to look at Afghanistan for some chimerical ‘strategic depth’.
  • the fact that China is interested in working with India in Afghanistan suggests that new possibilities for regional cooperation are emerging, which India should not hesitate to explore.

Crossing a bridge – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/crossing-a-bridge/article17404920.ece

  • India has done the right thing by deciding to attend the Indus Waters Treaty meet
  • Even in the fraught and volatile framework of India-Pakistan ties, the Permanent Indus Commission mandated to implement the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) has met like clockwork, 112 times in 56 years, annually in each country.
  • What treaty says?
    • Under the treaty, India has full use of the three “eastern” rivers (Beas, Ravi, Sutlej), while Pakistan has control over the three “western” rivers (Indus, Chenab, Jhelum), although India is given rights to use these partially as well for certain purposes.
  • The move is welcome, as it denotes India’s commitment to the treaty that has stood the test of time and war, and also displays New Delhi’s sincerity on the issue of water-sharing, given that the IWT is seen to be a model in dispute management.
  • What deteriorated the relation between India and Pakistan?
  • In September last year, doubts had been raised over India’s commitment after the terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri, killing 19 soldiers. In the days that followed, senior officials announced the suspension of talks until there was an “atmosphere free of terror” after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on the treaty to consider retaliatory measures against Pakistan for the attack, saying, “blood and water cannot go together”.
      • The atmosphere was also charged after the government announced “surgical strikes” had been carried out along the Line of Control and subsequently pulled out from the SAARC summit in Pakistan, leading to fears of a freeze in bilateral ties.
  • Situation Now
  • In the event, the government has chosen wisely, with some encouragement from the World Bank and persistence by Pakistan, to step back from much of that rhetoric, and allow IWT commissioners from both countries to meet.
  • The decision follows several other moves between India and Pakistan in the past few weeks indicating a softening of positions on some other issues as well: from a marked reduction in LoC firing, the regular annual exchange of nuclear lists, the release of prisoners by both countries, and India being part of the consensus to elect the Pakistani nominee as the SAARC Secretary-General this week.
  • they reaffirm the high stakes that are woven into India-Pakistan relations, and the need to keep certain issues such as water-sharing above the politics of the moment.