Surgical Strike at and Sino-Pak Ties

Public anger in India over the massacre was inevitable and the government boldly decided to hit back on Pakistani territory effectively.

Published: 10th March 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2019 06:17 PM   |  A+A-

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Photo | Twitter @MEAIndia)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Photo | Twitter @MEAIndia)

Visits to China and Abu Dhabi by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, following growing tensions with Pakistan, had a useful impact in shaping international reactions. These visits came in the wake of the Pulwama killings of CRPF personnel by a suicide bomber, trained and motivated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Public anger in India over the massacre was inevitable and the government boldly decided to hit back on Pakistani territory effectively. The designated target was a madrassa in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is a JeM building, frequented by its leaders and cadres. The bombs unleashed by the attacking Mirage 2000 aircraft hit the madrassa with pinpoint accuracy.

The visit of Sushma Swaraj to Beijing for the annual India, Russia, China meeting of Foreign Ministers provided a good opportunity to directly convey India’s concerns at a high level to both Russia and China. Her subsequent visit to Abu Dhabi, representing India as an “honoured guest”, gave the country added prestige in the Islamic world.

While China will be averse to taking any action publicly against Pakistan, Beijing can possibly be persuaded not to reject India’s concerns about Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, in multilateral forums such as the International Financial Action Task Force and the UN Security Council (UNSC). China would not like to be isolated in such forums, if other UNSC Permanent Members came together to act against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.  

What has also emerged is that China will continue with its untenable position that it does not recognise India as a “legitimate” nuclear weapons power. It avers that only powers, which acquired nuclear weapons before July 1, 1968, when the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed, can be a “legitimate” and “recognised” nuclear weapons state. Like others who have acceded the NPT, China is obliged not to supply unsafeguarded nuclear weapons material and know-how to others. It is, likewise, required to observe similar restraints for supply/sale of missile technology to others.

Despite its obligations under the NPT and the Missile Technology Control Regime, China has been a large-scale supplier of nuclear weapons and missile technology, designs and know-how to Pakistan, for over four decades now. Pakistan’s nuclear scientists have been trained in China. Its nuclear weapons are of Chinese design.

The latest “inverters” for enrichment of uranium, used for nuclear weapons, have also been supplied to Pakistan by China. China has also proceeded to supply Pakistan equipment and designs for producing lighter plutonium-based thermonuclear bombs and tactical nuclear weapons. The same paradigm prevails for Pakistan’s missile programme, which enables the country to produce missiles capable of hitting targets in India. 

While China may claim to being committed to peace, stability and cooperation in South Asia, the reality is that it uses Pakistan as its instrument for what is called “low-cost nuclear containment,” of India. This Sino-Pakistan relationship is now set to extend into the maritime sphere, with China increasingly taking over control of the Gwadar Port in Baluchistan, while preparing to supply Pakistan with submarines and warships. dadpartha@gmail.com

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