Regionalism and Diplomacy

Pakistan vis-à-vis India

by Syeda Tahreem Bukhari
Pakistan is always committed to dialogue and diplomacy. It prefers the resolution of disputes through peaceful means. Pakistan’s existence is itself evident of its commitment towards dialogue over war. History of Pakistan-India relations also highlights frequent shift towards peace processes initiated by Pakistan such as Composite Dialogues. Pakistan also played crucial role in bringing warring groups in Afghanistan on table. Even on regional platforms Pakistan always prioritized the significance of forum over its enmity. As a committed member of the SCO since joining in 2017, Pakistan recognizes the important role of regionalism in enhancing security, stability, and economic growth. Regardless of its strained relations with India, Pakistan did not back off from the regional forum, undermining credibility of platform over India’s hostile approach. While, on other hand India always tries to sabotage the regional arrangements via blame gaming or refusing to participate such as 19th SAARC summit, in which Pakistan was host but got cancel. Contrary to this, Pakistan is committed towards regionalism a in last SCO meet of foreign ministers in Goa, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attended the meeting despite of having war of words with its India’s counterpart at UN. India blamed Pakistan for spreading terrorism, calling Bilawal Bhutto spoke person of terrorists. India’s animosity towards Pakistan, drives India to exploit every regional platform to degrade Pakistan. On other hand, Pakistan was aware of India’s attention still attended the meeting owing to its commitments to the principles and charter of SCO. Pakistan accepted India’s invitation to the 23rd meeting of SCO Council of Head of States (CHS). The event held virtually with SCO member states heads joined the meet along with Iran, Belarus and Mongolia invited as Observer States where Iran joined as new member. The heads of six regional and international organizations were also invited including UN, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The SCO summit which was held virtually, Modi regime lacked credible explanation for not holding SCO summit in physical or hybrid mode. Indian Foreign secretary failure to give even one credible reason for having a virtual summit indicates that India is moving away from the approaches which led it to become an SCO full member in 2017. Theme of the Summit was “Towards a SECURE SCO”. The term ‘SECURE’ stands for Security, Economy and Trade, Connectivity, Unity, Respect for Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity, and Environment. Though the term was coined by Narendra Modi, but if one analyze Indian government under Modi, these elements of ‘SECURE’ were sabotaged by Modi himself. India’s hegemonic designs under Modi have blatantly tarnished the concept of Security within state where Manipur is burning, Minorities are at verge of Genocide, Sikhs are fighting for their rights, Kashmiris are struggling against state oppression, and Muslims are victim of discriminatory policy of state. Bulldozer politics is one of the tactic by Modi regime to silence the sane voices. As far as the respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty is concerned, the Balakot Crisis and the Brahmos Missile incident is the utter violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighboring state. India is needed to implement these elements contributing towards regional stability. Even regionalism is the main factor that can contribute towards economic growth of whole region. These regional platforms should not be exploited for petty vested interests and diplomatic point scoring. As India again attempted to exploit virtual summit via blame gaming on Pakistan for terrorism. Though this time, China hard handedly deals with India, Xi Jinping said: “We should keep in mind the overall and long-term interests of our region, and make our foreign policies independently. We must be highly vigilant against external attempts to foment a new ‘Cold War’ or camp-based confrontation in our region,” India is needed to raise against the regional politics in interest of all the regional states. The region can only prosper and regionalism can prevail if India stops manipulating mutual issues such as terrorism, extremism, and Kashmir conflict for diplomatic gains and move towards collectively addressing these issues. The way European Union successfully contributed towards thwarting war and boosting economic growth. The Eurasian region can also overcome its internal rifts through such platform as SCO, boosting durable peace and stability in the region. The SCO provides an excellent opportunity for such engagements where Pakistan and India along with other regional states can collaborate towards paving way for sustainable peace and stability in the region. The SCO could prove to be an effective platform where steps must be taken to promote peace, trust, and cooperation between the two nations.

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