New Delhi (Sputnik): Relations between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed South Asian countries that neighbour regional powerhouse China, took a turn for the worst in the last fortnight when India chose to retaliate against the 14 February suicide bombing that killed at least 40 security personnel in Pulwama in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. Launching an aerial operation on terror camps inside Pakistani territory, India sought to convey a strong message that it would not be a mute spectator to acts of terrorism. What ensued was a flurry of allegations and counter-allegations, with aerial engagements between the air forces of the two countries at the backdrop. Sputnik spoke to former Indian diplomat Skand Tayal and sought his views on what India-Pakistan relations might look like after the current tension recedes and what equation China could choose to have with each of the neighbours.
Sputnik: How do you view India-Pakistan ties in the present context?
Skand Tayal: The main issue between India and Pakistan now is terrorism. Whatever India has done is to dismantle the terror infrastructure in Balakot and other places. Pakistan also retailed and then after international pressure, released Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthamam. But the core issue of terrorism is still there, and Pakistan has to take some very strong steps against terrorists such as Masood Azhar. Pakistan also needs to act against terrorist camps on their soil.
Sputnik: Do you think Pakistan is going to act against the terrorists and the terror infrastructure in the near future owing to mounting international pressure?
Skand Tayal: Pakistan has a dubious history of never fulfilling its promise that it will act against terrorists and terror outfits. In 2004, then President Pervez Musharraf gave a commitment that Pakistan would rein-in the terror outfits. But in 2008, Pakistan-based terror outfits carried out the ghastly attack on Mumbai. What Pakistan is doing in Iran is a known fact. Pakistan is fomenting terrorism in Afghanistan. Therefore, Pakistan always assures the international community that it will take action against terrorism emanating from its soil, but fails to deliver on those commitments. But after the Pulwama attack, India has been quite successful in building pressure on Pakistan in cooperation with the international community. Pakistan's financial situation is bad and the country needs urgent financial help from China and Saudi Arabia. If these countries are supporting India this time, then New Delhi will be able to put pressure on Pakistan to take action against the terrorists.
Skand Tayal: Yes. India's strategy of international lobbying to isolate Pakistan and put pressure on it has been praiseworthy and, to a large extent, successful. Currently, even China is not openly supporting its all-weather ally Pakistan. Not a single country has so far denounced India's air strike against the terror camps inside Pakistani territory; I think Pakistan should learn a lesson from this experience.
Sputnik: How do you see the China factor in India-Pakistan relations playing out in the aftermath of the ongoing hostilities?
Skand Tayal: There is no doubt that China has openly supported Pakistan on many occasions. In fact, China is Pakistan's all weather friend. China has supported Pakistan even on the matter of Masood Azhar. The world has seen how China on many occasions vetoed the proposal to designate Masood Azhar a global terrorist. However, the recent statement by China during the RIC meeting that breeding grounds of terrorism should be eliminated was seen as a major plus point for India. Secondly, China has not blamed or denounced India after the Indian Air Force struck alleged terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan. In fact, the statements from China have been very balanced. The US, UK and France have again put up a proposal before the UNSC against Masood Azhar. Now we have to wait till 12 March to know what China's stand will be.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.