Tolo News – Government criticized for ‘silence’ on China’s Uighurs

Lawmakers said Afghan politicians and the government should not remain silent on such issues.

Massoud Ansar

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 17 November Some members of Afghanistan’s Ulema Council on Sunday criticized the Afghan government and politicians for “silence” on “injustice” against the Muslim community in China.

On Saturday, The New York Times in a report about “organized mass detention of Muslims in China.”

The Times said there are more than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents providing an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The report says that the leaked documents provide an inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, where the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

“Unfortunately, in the Muslim world, we do not have a united institution which will represent all Muslims and treat such issues from a powerful position,” said Ghairat Bahir, a Senator and member of Hizb-e-Islami party.

The report says that China’s president Xi Jinping laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31.

It adds that Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

“Injustice against Muslims in any part of the world should not be ignored,” said Attaullah Ludin, a member of Afghanistan Ulema Council.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on this report despite repeated attempts.

MPs said that some Muslim countries, including the Afghan government, and individual politicians, are silent to protect their own interests.

“We call on the government and the international community to raise their voice against injustice towards Muslims in China,” said Keramuddin Rezazada, a lawmaker.

“There are some issues, including love for position and power, that shuts their voices,” said Abdullah Qarluq, a Senator.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/govt-criticized-%E2%80%98silence%E2%80%99-china%E2%80%99s-uighurs

The Statesman – Tibetans urge Narendra Modi to take up issue of Tibet with Xi Jinping

The National Convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause, RK Khrimey said the unresolved question of Tibet is a matter of great concern not only to the Tibetans in their homeland and in exile but also to India and rest of the world.

Shimla – Himachal Pradesh – India, 10 October 2019. The Core Group for Tibetan Cause on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the issue of Tibet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the informal summit at Mamallapuram near Chennai on 11 and 12 October.

The National Convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause, RK Khrimey said the unresolved question of Tibet is a matter of great concern not only to the Tibetans in their homeland and in exile but also to India and rest of the world.

“Unfortunate self-immolation by over 153 Tibetans inside Tibet since 2009 is a clear indication of the gravity of human rights situation in Tibet under Chinese rule,” he said, adding Chinese government must take steps to improve the human rights situation.

He said the Chinese government must immediately stop the religious and cultural repression in Tibet.

Further, the dialogue between representatives of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and the People’s Republic of China which has been suspended since 2010, should be resumed as soon as possible without further delay.

“We would like to request to build pressure upon the Chinese authorities to stop disturbing the fragile ecology of the Tibetan plateau by bringing together all the riparian states affected by such activities,” he added.

Khrimey said PM Modi has not only brought a transformation of the plight of Indian community but created a new dimension from India to Bharat.

He said having stated this, while initiating the dialogue with Xi Jinping, Modi must also take up the issue of Tibetan students who have been living and pursuing their studies in Tibet.

The students have been unnecessarily put on house arrest, blockading their usual movement and unnecessarily questioned their motives and aspiration, he said, adding the arrested students must be released immediately.

“The Constitution of India ensures us the right to protest against the injustices prevailing hitherto despite any indulgence of political and social powers. The same rights are equally applied to Tibetans as well.

Over 60 years of their existence in India as a refugee, the successive Indian government has never crushed their voices but we are tortured for protest in the street against injustices impinged upon Tibetans inside Tibet by Chinese government,” he added.

Tibetans urge Narendra Modi to take up issue of Tibet with Xi Jinping

BBC News – US imposes China visa restrictions over Uighur issue

The US has said it will impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials accused of involvement in repression of Muslim populations.

Washington DC – USA, 09 October 2019. It follows the decision on Monday to blacklist 28 Chinese organisations linked by the US to allegations of abuse in the Xinjiang region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Chinese government had instituted “a highly repressive campaign”.

China has dismissed the allegations as groundless.

In a statement, Mr Pompeo accused the Chinese government of a string of abuses against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz Muslims and other minority Muslim groups.

These included “mass detentions in internment camps; pervasive, high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities; and coercion of individuals to return from abroad to an often perilous fate in China”.

China has rebuffed the US moves.

“There is no such thing as these so-called ‘human rights issues’ as claimed by the United States,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday.

“These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

Visa restrictions are to be imposed on Chinese government and Communist Party officials, as well as their family members.

“The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate,” the US statement said.

The US and China are currently embroiled in a trade war, and have sent delegations to Washington for a meeting about the tensions later this week.

What is the situation in Xinjiang?

China has been carrying out a massive security operation in Xinjiang, in its far west, in recent years.

Human rights groups and the UN say China has rounded up and detained more than a million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in vast detention camps, where they are forced to renounce Islam, speak only in Mandarin Chinese and learn obedience to the communist government.

But China says they are attending “vocational training centres” which are giving them jobs and helping them integrate into Chinese society, in the name of preventing terrorism.

There have been increasingly vocal denunciations from the US and other countries about China’s actions in Xinjiang.

Last week, Mr Pompeo alleged that China “demands its citizens worship government, not God” in a press conference in the Vatican.

And in July more than 20 countries at the UN Human Rights Council signed a joint letter criticising China’s treatment of the Uighurs and other Muslims.

Who are the Uighurs?

Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims. They make up about 45% of the Xinjiang region’s population; 40% are Han Chinese.

China re-established control in 1949 after crushing short-lived state of East Turkestan.

Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?

Since then, there has been large-scale immigration of Han Chinese and Uighurs fear erosion of their culture.

Xinjiang is officially designated an autonomous region within China, like Tibet to its south.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49979063

The Hindustan Times – Free-Tibet activist Tsundue arrested before Modi-Xi summit in Tamil Nadu

According to Villupuram district police department, TN police was alerted by the Union Home Ministry that Tsundue, a “Free Tibet” movement supporter, may protest at the venue during the summit.

M Manikandan

Chennai – Tamil Nadu – India, 07 October 2019. Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram police on Saturday night arrested a noted Tibetan writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue in Kottakuppam, less than hundred kilometers away from the Tamil Nadu town of Mamallapuram, which is hosting the three-day summit between Chinese President Xi-Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi beginning 11 October.

According to Villupuram district police department, TN police was alerted by the Union Home Ministry that Tsundue, a “Free Tibet” movement supporter, may protest at the venue during the summit.

“Tenzin had been arrested twice previously by Mumbai and Bengaluru police during visits by then Chinese premiers in 2002 and 2005 respectively. Tsundue had unfurled a banner reading “Free Tibet” at Hotel Oberoi, Mumbai in 2002 where Chinese premier Zhu Rongji was addressing a gathering.

He was arrested in Bangalore in 2005 for protesting against the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao,” said top police official from Villupuram. On Saturday night, Tenzin was arrested from a hotel in Villupuram district near Puducherry.

“Tsundue was trying to get a room in a hotel which in turn alerted the police leading to his arrest,” the police officers noted.

Sources said that Tsundue was again planning to unfurl banners in support of the “Free Tibet” during Xi-Jinping’s visit. He has been sent to Chennai Puzhal Central Jail in the wee hours of Sunday said police officers.

The Sino-Indo summit will be hosted in scenic Mamallapuram about 60 km south of Chennai from October 11 to 13.

Tsundue had posted on Xi’s visit on his Facebook on Saturday. “Xi has invited Pakistan PM to Beijing for chai on the 8th, and India’s military exercise in Arunachal will go on while Xi is on India visit. Xi hyphenates Nepal on the India tour. Too many swords drawn. What’s going on? And no official announcements still,” his post read.

A travel ban was imposed on Tsundue which kept him restricted to Dharamshala during the former Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India in November 2006. Though he is a refugee, Tenzin Tsundue is based in Dharamshala, from where he writes and works for the cause of Tibet’s independence.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/south/free-tibet-activist-tsundue-arrested-before-modi-xi-summit-in-tamil-nadu/story-q78fBvZ0hfuteOlSSqGdPJ.html

The Hindu – India is the top source of immigrants across the globe

A UN report reveals that one-third of all immigrants come from 10 countries

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 19 September 2019. India has emerged as the leading country of origin for immigrants across the world, with 17.5 million international migrants in 2019 coming from India, up from 15.9 million in 2015, according to a dataset released by the Union Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York on Tuesday.

Sharp increase

The International Migrant Stock 2019, released by the UN DESA’s Population Division, said the number of international migrants in the world had reached an estimated 272 million 2019 — 51 million more than in 2010. The percentage of international migrants of the total global population has increased to 3.5% from 2.8% in 2000.

While India remained as the top source of international migrants, the number of migrants living in India saw a slight decline from 5.24 million in 2015 to an estimated 5.15 million in 2019 – both 0.4% of the total population of the country.

Bangladesh was the leading country of origin for migrants in India, the report stated. India is the top source of immigrants across the globe

From 10 countries

In a statement, the UN DESA Population Division said that one-third of all international migrants originated from 10 countries, after India, Mexico ranked second as the country of origin for 12 million migrants, followed by China (11 million), Russia (10 million) and Syria (8 million).

The European region hosted the highest number of the immigrants at 82 million in 2019, followed by North America (59 million) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (49 million). Among countries, the USA hosts the highest number of international migrants (51 million), about 19% of the global population.

The statement also said that around two-fifths of all international migrants had gone from one developing country to another.

The statement added that further, forced displacements continue to rise, with the number of refugees and asylum seekers increased by about 13 million from 2010 to 2017, the statement added.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-is-the-top-source-of-immigrants-across-the-globe/article29452221.ece?homepage=true

Dawn – Pakistan rejects India’s efforts to portray ‘normalcy’ in occupied Kashmir

Pakistan “categorically rejected” on Sunday Indian government’s attempts to “portray normalcy in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.

Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 08 September 2019. A press release issued by the Foreign Office today said that despite the Indian government’s claims, occupied Kashmir was still under a lockdown while Kashmiri leaders remained under house arrest.

“Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir continues to be the largest prison in the world with the heaviest deployment of Indian occupation forces since the coercive, unilateral and illegal Indian actions of August 5, 2019 aimed at altering the internationally recognised disputed status of IOJ&K and changing its demographic structure to preempt the results of a UN plebiscite,” the press release read.

The Foreign Office also termed Indian reports that portrayed two farmers, who had inadvertently crossed the border in August, as terrorists as a “farcical attempt”.

“This was despite the fact that the incident was discussed during the weekly military hotline contact between both sides on August 27, 2019 when Indian authorities acknowledged that they were inadvertent crossers and informed Pakistan that routine formalities are taking place after which they will be returned.”

On August 21, two farmers in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, identified as Muhammad Nazeem, 21, and 30-year-old Khalil Ahmed, had unintentionally crossed the Line of Control near Hajipir while they were out for cutting grass.

Last month, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar had claimed that Pakistan was trying to create “an alarmist situation” after Indian media, citing unidentified Indian intelligence sources, said that Pakistan-trained commandos have allegedly entered Indian waters to attack port facilities in western Gujarat state.

Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor had rubbished the claims. Yesterday, the military’s media wing had also issued a press release on the matter and said that the Indian media’s reports were “yet another attempt to fabricate facts”.

The Foreign Office press release issued today highlighted that Islamabad had “sensitised the international community” about India’s efforts to raise a false flag operation to divert attention from the situation in occupied Kashmir and blame Pakistan for “[India’s] indefensible actions”.

The statement also denounced “a false and fabricated story”, where Indian authorities had “blamed deaths of some Kashmiris in [the occupied territory] on ‘Pakistani militants'”. The statement referred to a briefing by Indian army officials that was held on 04 September.

Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history

A Chinese delegation led by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, which came to Pakistan on a two-day visit, said that Beijing “opposes any unilateral actions that [would] complicate the situation” in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, a press statement said on Sunday.

A joint press release issued by foreign ministries of Pakistan and China, said that the former briefed the Chinese delegation on the situation in India-occupied Kashmir, that has been under a strict lockdown for the past month, “including [Islamabad’s] concerns, position, and urgent humanitarian issues”.

The Chinese side assured Pakistan that it was paying “close attention” to the situation developing in the occupied territory, the press release said. Chinese delegation further said that the “Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history” and must be solved according to the United Nations resolutions.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1504213/pakistan-rejects-indias-efforts-to-portray-normalcy-in-occupied-kashmir

The Hindustan Times – UN Security Council to discuss J&K in closed-door consultation today

China on Wednesday threw its weight behind its all-weather ally Pakistan’s call for convening an “urgent meeting” of the Security Council to take up the agenda item “India-Pakistan Question” to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following India’s decision to end the state’s special status and split it into two Union Territories.

Yashwant Raj and Rezaul H Laskar

Washington DC/New Delhi, 16 August 2019. The UN Security Council is set to take up the situation in Kashmir during closed door informal consultations on Friday, instead of the open and formal meeting Islamabad sought along with the right to address it, people familiar with developments said on Thursday.

China on Wednesday threw its weight behind its all-weather ally Pakistan’s call for convening an “urgent meeting” of the Security Council to take up the agenda item “India-Pakistan Question” to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following India’s decision to end the state’s special status and split it into two Union Territories.

China’s statement backing Pakistan’s call for the meeting said the 15-member Security Council should hold “closed consultations under the agenda ‘India-Pakistan Question’” and invite the Department of Political and Peace-building Affairs and Department of Peace Operations to brief the body.

If China had wanted a broader formal meeting, it would have said so instead of seeking “consultations”, the people said.

“The UN Security Council will discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation behind closed doors most likely on August 16,” Poland’s permanent representative to the UN and current Security Council president, Joanna Wronecka, was quoted as saying by Geo News channel. Poland holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency for August.

Russia’s acting UN envoy, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that Moscow did not object to the holding of such a meeting but that the issue should be discussed behind closed doors. Security Council members need to coordinate their positions first because the Kashmir issue hasn’t been on the agenda for quite a while, he added.

“Consultations” and an “open” or a “closed meeting” are technically and substantively different, reflecting the gravity of the issue.

According to the UN’s definitions, both open and closed meetings are formal meetings of the Security Council, though closed meetings are not open to the public and no verbatim record of statements is kept and the council issues a communiqué. Consultations are informal meetings of the council members and aren’t covered in the repertoire.

The Security Council holds such consultations frequently, sometimes thrice a week, and members can raise any issue and several topics can come up at these discussions.

China has inserted Kashmir into the agenda and it will be one of them on Friday, the people cited above said. The session will neither be recorded nor telecast live and Pakistan won’t get to address the members, they added.

France had even proposed the council should discuss the issue in a less formal manner, known as “any other business”, next week, Reuters quoted unnamed diplomats as saying.

Russia has already said India and Pakistan should address their differences bilaterally, a position also adopted by Poland and the European Union. The US, too, has ruled out mediation on the Kashmir issue and called for a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

A letter sent by Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the Security Council president on August 13 said a representative of the Pakistani government should be allowed to join the meeting. Experts said if this request were to be accepted by the council, an Indian representative would also have to be allowed to participate in the discussions.

The experts said much depends on the format of discussions and their outcomes – such as whether there is a binding or non-binding resolution and whether the minutes are recorded.

The people cited above also said that though Pakistan had tried many times to internationalise the Kashmir issue, the situation on the ground had changed since the Indian government’s decision on August 5 to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

“In the past, such efforts to internationalise the matter were aimed at discussing the status of Kashmir. This is no longer the case now as the status has changed,” said a person who did not want to be identified.

The people noted that Pakistan was persisting with efforts to portray a “doomsday picture”, including Prime Minister Imran Khan’s public remarks and tweets, and Qureshi’s letter to the Security Council.

Qureshi wrote in his letter that the situation in Kashmir poses “an imminent threat to international peace”. Qureshi also referred to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, killed by security forces in 2016, as a “popular resistance leader”.

“There is, furthermore, a clear and present danger that India will provoke another conflict with Pakistan to divert attention from its recent actions in Jammu & Kashmir,” Qureshi wrote in the letter.

He added, “Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness. If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities.”

The Indian government hasn’t formally responded to the remarks by the Pakistani leadership and the people cited above said the changes in Kashmir were purely an internal issue.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/unsc-to-discuss-j-k-in-closed-door-consultation/story-GmHC9IZPUEz3MACePTsDkN.html

The News – India needs third-party mediation on Kashmir conflict: Global Times

Beijing – China, 03 August 2019. The US is not the first country to offer to mediate on Kashmir conflict. Former South African President Nelson Mandela and incumbent Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg had also offered third-party mediation.

But India has paid no heed to any offer, which has escalated tensions in Kashmir, according to an article published by Global Times, a widely circulated Chinese newspaper.

Perhaps India should try to understand why the international community generally supports improving India-Pakistan relations through peaceful negotiations.

That’s because, during the more than 70 years of disputes, the two countries have always lacked an effective channel of negotiation. Clashes have erupted along the Line of Control, which had cost many innocent people’s lives.

Under such circumstances, China has always supported international mediation because the peace and stability of South Asia is of great importance. If the India-Pakistan disputes lead to war or even a nuclear confrontation, then the two peoples will become innocent victims. China’s national strategy and interests will be seriously harmed as well.

For example, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will face severe challenges in South Asia if the region suffers from war. China supports all countries, including the US, that sincerely aim at promoting peaceful negotiations between India and Pakistan, because this is also in line with China’s own interests.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/507250-india-needs-third-party-mediation-on-kashmir-conflict-global-times

South China Morning Post – Hongkong Sikh wants to change attitudes towards ethnic minorities, while also being first doctor in city to wear a turban

Medical student Sukhdeep Singh, 23, is on a mission to empower ethnic minority youth, starting with an NGO he set up with other young professionals

Stephanie Tsui

Hong Kong – Special administrative region – China, 11 May 2019. Sukhdeep Singh, 23, is used to getting stares. “It’s because I’m so handsome,” he says, chuckling. At nearly 1.9 metres, Singh naturally stands out from most Hongkongers, but he believes his height is not the only reason he is considered different.

“Some people who assume I don’t understand Cantonese would comment on my turban in front of me, and on the MTR, people would rather squeeze themselves into more crowded rows than take the empty seats next to me.”

Singh is a final-year medical student at Chinese University. When he graduates next year, he will become one of a handful of Sikh doctors in Hong Kong, and the first to be wearing a turban. While not all Sikhs wear turbans, Singh dons one as an article of faith and to keep his uncut hair tidy and clean. He has been letting his hair grow since he was about nine as a show of faith.

“The sad reality is, when I’m wearing scrubs and a lab coat, I get treated differently. If I’m wearing normal clothes, no one would believe I am a medical student,” says Singh, who is one of about 12,000 Sikhs in the city.

“Patients might develop a different perspective on people with turbans in Hong Kong when they see me, a turbaned doctor, and, hopefully, start to view other ethnic minorities differently.”

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Singh grew up surrounded by Cantonese speakers, including his own father, a civil servant. But he only realised the importance of speaking the language when he enrolled in medical school.

“Patients look at me strangely, and that’s normal. But whenever I speak to them in their own dialect, their faces light up.”

Although he struggled with Cantonese vocabulary at first, Singh is now fluent in the language and able to write in Chinese. He is determined to eventually “speak like a local”, saying: “If I really am a Hongkonger, I should embrace every part of the culture.” In the coming year, he hopes to improve his Mandarin to serve more patients.

While he has overcome communication barriers, Singh continues to be wary of the way patients perceive him, and keeps his beard tied and tucked in a low bun.

“At home, it’s always free flowing, but at the hospital, I keep it up because you don’t want to scare sick patients even more. As a community, we still need to address these sensitive issues through education.”

Ethnic minorities who wear religious clothing, such as turbans and hijabs, often face discrimination, says Shalini Mahtani, founder and CEO of The Zubin Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of people in such communities in Hong Kong.

“They’re often told they’re smelly, people don’t want to sit next to them on public transport. It’s particularly obvious when they’re on a packed MTR.

“At the workplace, other employees may complain about ethnic minorities bringing in food that ‘smells funny’ or ‘bad’.”

Citing a 2018 study by the foundation, Mahtani also gives the example of how many local kindergartens would not welcome ethnic minority children because they believe they are “lazy”, “stupid” and require too much attention from teachers.

But she expresses hope that professionals like Singh will help raise the profile of ethnic minorities.

“Having more visibility for ethnic minorities is very important.”

She also believes more can be done to raise awareness of ethnic minorities among Chinese Hongkongers.

“I don’t think we’re doing a good job,” she says.

Last year, Singh and other young professionals founded Pargaas, a non-profit organisation that hopes to empower ethnic minority youth. Pargaas holds workshops on higher education and self-improvement.

“If we want to improve the number of ethnic minority kids getting into higher education, you need an organisation that can help them improve basic skills like CV writing. There weren’t many educated Sikhs who could run an organisation like Pargaas, but now there are,” Singh says.

He adds that Pargaas is also building a database on the characteristics of the Sikh community to look at what needs to be improved.

“We want to achieve harmony and to help others understand our culture. I just hope people on the receiving end would listen with open hearts.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/3009452/sikh-hongkonger-wants-change-attitudes-towards-ethnic

The Asian Age – Foreign policy options after May 23 verdict

In India, the Narendra Modi government’s changes in foreign policy are both cosmetic and substantive.

K C Singh

Op/Ed, 8 May 2019. It may be useful to analyse the possible impact on Indian foreign policy of the looming May 23 Lok Sabha results. Three possible scenarios are a government led by the BJP, perhaps without a majority on its own; or a similar alliance led by the Congress; or an alliance led by a Third Front leader, albeit supported by either the BJP or the Congress.

A less likely, but not improbable, scenario could be a BJP-led government under someone other than Narendra Modi.

A similar debate has begun in America as a battery of Democrats have lined up to challenge President Donald Trump. In particular, the entry of Joe Biden, vice-president under Barack Obama, has sharpened the debate due to his legacy and experience. But Democrats don’t simply want to return to the past or the Obama track. The Economist notes “rumbles of revisionism”.

Broadly there is a consensus on the need for restraint as an evangelical pursuit to change the world and endless wars have depleted America’s wealth and ill-served intended aims. They also agree foreign and domestic policies must not be in silos as the US, when peddling democratic values abroad, must not ignore corruption and kleptocracy.

Finally, they debate whether foreign policy making needs to be democratised rather than conducted under notional congressional oversight. The recent move to limit the President’s war-making powers points there.

A Democratic administration may return the US to the Paris Accord on climate change, rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran, albeit with suitable tweaking, return to the Nato alliance without ambiguities, and so on.

Yet some elements may have been changed by President Trump irreversibly, like the bipartisan consensus on Sino-US relations is trade and investment with China needs new terms of engagement. This has implications for World Trade Organisation (WTO) reform.

In India, the Narendra Modi government’s changes in foreign policy are both cosmetic and substantive. The first relates more to hugging and protocol aspects that a new incumbent can immediately change, but can be expected to be persisted with by a re-elected Modi government.

The second falls under following headings: India-USA relations; China-Indian relations; Pakistan and the “zero terror” policy; countering radical Islamic terror and Jammu and Kashmir; Gulf and Iran.

It is noteworthy that the consensus on foreign policy, which last broke over the India-USA nuclear deal in 2008, largely shattered in the past five years due to the highly personalised, and hyper-nationalistic diplomacy of Mr Modi. Berating the Opposition while abroad, albeit on the pretext of addressing the Indian diaspora, began its collapse.

India’s readjustment to the post-Cold War world began with the P V Narasimha Rao government in 1991. Between him, the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led BJP government of 1998 and the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-1 in 2004, there was continuity in style and content.

The USA was wooed while retaining strategic independence, China engaged to incrementally expand areas of convergence, putting disputes on hold, Pakistan unsuccessfully but repeatedly tested to wean it away from terror sponsorship and accept confidence-building measures as a precursor to dispute settlement, J&K handled with a combination of hard and soft approaches, and finally a balance maintained in India’s policy towards the Gulf, Iran, West Asia and Israel. India also had a more active “Look East” policy, renamed “Act East” by the Modi government.

Essentially, you act only after you look, so it was the 1991 policy continued, to balance China, help craft a new Asian security architecture through building blocks like Asean Regional Forum, East Asia Summit and even the Quad, comprising four democracies straddling the Indo-Pacific, Australia, India, Japan and the USA.

A non-BJP government may begin by toning down the excessive bonhomie towards the Trump administration, which has openly backed Mr Modi, ensuring “wins” before and during the Lok Sabha polls. It is unimaginable that Pakistan would hand back IAF officer Abhinandan Varthaman, while Mr Modi is still threatening Pakistan, unless the USA-Saudi-Emirati interlocutors assured the Imran Khan government that this was merely domestic posturing.

Mr Modi claimed his threat, apparently nuclear, got Pakistan to comply. If threats worked, why did not India get consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, detained for espionage, and had to go to the International Court of Justice at The Hague?

Similarly, the rushed listing of Masood Azhar, that some reports said China was reluctant to concede during the Indian election, had a USA role, about which they reminded India when seeking Iran’s isolation. Earlier, the UAE had conveniently deported or extradited individuals during the Rajasthan and Lok Sabha polls as these were required to nail the Congress for corruption.

Desirable as cooperation is for combating corruption and terrorism, it must be balanced against insulating India’s elections from foreign interference. After all, Russia is similarly accused in America, which President Trump denies but the Robert Mueller report implicitly confirms.

A non-BJP government, particularly a Congress-led or supported one, may examine what, if any, were the trade-offs. First, Indian non-retaliation was conspicuous when the US imposed duties on Indian products. Second, the US pressuring India to distance itself from Iran and Russia.

Strategic independence, a core value on which our foreign policy rests, appears under pressure, if not compromised. But worse is foreign powers backing their favourites.

Pakistan is another case in point. Treating J&K as a pure law and order issue and Pakistan as a lunatic asylum impervious to anything but shock treatment of “surgical strikes” is brazen use of neighbourhood policy for communal-baiting domestically.

It may or may not win elections, but it leaves a poisoned chalice for a successor government, although it’s unlikely Pakistan policy will return to the romance of the Gujral-Vajpayee-Manmohan period. But no counter-terror policy can work which alienates a minority exposed to jihadi propaganda via the Internet, employment in the Gulf and travel.

The Sri Lankan Easter massacre is a warning of what awaits India. ISIS and its “caliphate” uprooted from Syria-Iraq is mutating and re-planting wherever fertile ground is available. Africa, particularly Sahel, is harbouring fleeing and new adherents, which the April 29 video of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will fuel.

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have seen escalating attacks. British intelligence is tracking 10,500 jihadists in Sahel. How can India escape when BJP leaders are churning the communal pot for their electoral khichdi? The next government has a Herculean task to return the genie to the bottle, and counter politicisation of the military.

Hopefully, India’s voters will reject this dangerous gambit and its creator, Mr Modi, whom The Economist has dubbed “Agent Orange”.

The writer is a former secretary in the external affairs ministry.
He tweets at @ambkcsingh.

https://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/080519/foreign-policy-options-after-may-23-verdict.html