'One Belt One Road': India Losing Out Because Of Kashmir

Shun Obduracy & Enjoy Dividends

Mehboob Makhdoomi
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 19 2017 11:43PM | Updated Date: May 19 2017 11:43PM
'One Belt One Road': India Losing Out Because Of KashmirFile Photo

Hitherto, New Delhi has been draining itself by inflating its Kashmir-centric defense budget –stationing its above half-a-million military force- to contain the people’s uprisings internally & resist an aggression externally, if any. It may well be leveraging our hydropower & other resources and the fact that it mandates the cash-deficit State government to pay all the allowances to the CRPF & other central forces, apart from its own police force.  However, the unrealistic position on Jammu & Kashmir- including the part administered by Pakistan- which it has been spending so much to maintain, has begun to cost it fortunes. Well, it may not be a direct cost but certainly an opportunity cost. Yes, I’m talking about the China’s ‘One-Belt-One-Road’ (from herein referred to as OBOR) initiative, which is also called as BRI (Belt Road Initiative).

OBOR is a much bigger plan connecting China with rest of Eurasia while CPEC is a small but the most significant part of it.

For long we have been hearing about China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC), which has been termed as a game changer for Pakistan in the region & rightly so since it’s about rapidly modernizing transportation infrastructure, strengthen it economically, solve its electricity problem once & for all & come up with Special Economic Zones. The superior road links, energy projects, vocational institutes, the requirement of manpower (about 700,000 to begin with) are sure to make the country economically vibrant. Politically, Pakistan is unprecedentedly at a position of strength.  Given such magnitude of Chinese stakes it possesses, India can never risk to initiate any military action against it, come what may, since its Gwadar port is the Dragon’s new mouth.

Although, China & Pakistan have been open to India’s inclusion in the mega step especially its flagship project of CPEC, but India seems to be stuck in the 20thcentury politics of trying to show fake muscle to pander to its local population, the majority of which has been radicalized by the current right-wing dispensation. They worry more about the abstract ideas of ultra-nationalism & fake bravado, rather than the economic well-being in the current globalized world. The sovereignty they talk about is about the territory of Kashmir, which is recognized as the dispute worldwide. Especially, to reclaim Gilgit-Baltistan region which is the gateway of CPEC in Pakistan is not even seriously thought about in India. It’s only used as a counter to Pakistan in arguments. Is it really worth abstaining from the OBOR? Is it actually worth the opportunity cost OBOR presents to India? These are the questions Indian patriots should ask themselves.

Last Week, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping hosted a mega forum to market OBOR to the world, in which 28 heads of state—including the Russian president, the Turkish president, Malaysian PM, Pakistan PM and Sri Lankan PM—were invited. In addition, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Young, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, 80 leaders of other international organizations and over 100-ministerial-level officials along with over 1,200 delegates were also the invitees. Modi’s India decided to boycott. This, to me, is a diplomatic suicide. It had set out to isolate Pakistan in which it has clearly succeeded; the only difference being that the policy was so strong that the whole world has been isolated by India, alongside Pakistan. Although, Hindustan Times and Indian Express published articles ridiculing India’s decision to boycott by presenting various arguments, but I have one single question: Does India think that the Chinese will give up what it calls the biggest project of the 21st century- making it the next super-power of the world, involving 65 percent of the world’s population, one-third of global GDP and a quarter of all goods and services in the international economy-  and come to appease a crying child - India?  Does it even qualify to be a policy? And even if it does, does it even have a Vision? It simply doesn’t. It’s only to cater to its false ego which has been hurt by the Pakistani success of being a vital part of such an economic revolution. The same Pakistan it vowed to get declared as the failed state, the reason being Kashmir.

In the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Chinese companies function on many ports in (Kyaukpyu) Myanmar, (Hambantota) Sri Lanka, (Gwadar) Pakistan, (Bagamoyo) Tanzania, (Lamu) Kenya. Indian peninsula has been covered from all sides by China. India has only two options: One is to stay away from it and let China-Pakistan embrace be tighter and lose out massively or the other option is to be bold enough to solve Kashmir and be an active part of The Silk-Road-Economic-Belt & the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, with symbiotic relationship with both the antagonists: Pakistan & China. At the same time, it will also make us- Kashmir- the gateway of CPEC & a significant part of OBOR. Can’t India shun its obduracy & let people on all the sides enjoy the economic dividends of the success which apparently seems to be making an exit from the West & has is finally knocking the door of the East.

Mehboob Makhdoomi is a Harvardian & an MBA from Pennsylvania University (IUP) -the United States with a Research degree from Cardiff University, United Kingdom.