[12 April 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: In poll season, the perils of scorching bilateral ties

Mains PYQ Relevance: 

Q The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is viewed as a cardinal subset of China’s larger ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Give a brief description of CPEC and enumerate the reasons why India has distanced itself from the same.(UPSC IAS/2018)

Q “Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in India and growing interference in the internal affairs of several member-states by Pakistan are not conducive for the future of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).” Explain with suitable examples.(UPSC IAS/2016)


Mains:  Bilateral ties

Mentor comments: In the contemporary era of populism, an unwritten maxim dictates that “all geopolitics is local,” shaping policymaking worldwide. Consequently, leaders often craft foreign policies with a keen eye on domestic political ramifications, aiming not only to avoid negative impacts but even to secure additional voter support. However, it’s unusual for general elections to become entangled with foreign policy matters to the extent seen in the upcoming elections in India.

Let’s learn

Why in the news? 

The upcoming 2024 elections in India are making headlines due to the significant impact they may have on the country’s foreign policy.

Raising Geopolitical issues in the General Election:

  • The recent statements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar calling into question the 1974 India-Sri Lanka agreement. 
  • Not only did they both  criticize former Prime Ministers and their party for the decision to recognise Katchatheevu island as part of Sri Lankan territory, but the External Affairs Minister also went on to say that a “solution” must be found for the continuing “situation” Tamil Nadu fishermen find themselves in as a result of the agreement.

Credibility could take a hit:

  • Reputation as an Interlocutor: Any move by New Delhi to reopen or revise international agreements, especially those recognized by bodies like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), could call into question India’s reliability and credibility as a diplomatic partner.  
  • Impact on Negotiations: Renegotiating or revising agreements, such as the maritime boundary settlement with Bangladesh or the land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh, could complicate ongoing negotiations and strain diplomatic relations with partner countries.  
  • Precedent Setting: The actions taken by India regarding the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan serve as a precedent. Despite threats and calls for renegotiation, the treaty remains intact.
    • This indicates the challenges and complexities involved in revising established agreements, underscoring the potential ramifications for India’s credibility.
  • Long-Term Consequences: Any perceived inconsistency in India’s approach to international agreements may have long-term consequences for its diplomatic standing and ability to effectively engage in multilateral negotiations.  

Key Challenges with Indian Government: 

  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the NRC: The implementation of the CAA, which excludes Muslims and is seen as discriminatory by neighboring countries like Bangladesh, has the potential to strain diplomatic ties.
    • Additionally, fears over the subsequent implementation of the NRC and the potential designation of hundreds of thousands of people from Bangladesh as stateless citizens could further escalate tensions with Dhaka.
  • China Factor: The ongoing standoff with China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) raises concerns, particularly regarding China’s occupation of land since April 2020.
  • Canada Factor: Allegations of transnational killings by Indian agencies, including the trial of an Indian national in the United States for an alleged assassination plot and Canada’s claims of Indian involvement in the killing of a Sikh community leader, have sparked international attention and scrutiny.
  • Pakistan Factor: Pakistan has sought to align its claims of Indian involvement in killings with cases in the U.S. and Canada, further complicating diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Way Forward: 

  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC): Engage in transparent dialogue with neighboring countries, especially Bangladesh, to address concerns about the discriminatory nature of the CAA and potential implications of the NRC.
  • Standoff with China: Prioritize diplomatic channels to de-escalate tensions and seek peaceful resolutions to territorial disputes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Alleged Transnational Killings: Cooperate with international investigations to transparently address allegations of transnational killings, ensuring adherence to legal procedures and respect for human rights.
  • Pakistan’s Allegations: Maintain diplomatic composure and refute baseless allegations through evidence-based responses, avoiding escalation of tensions.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/in-poll-season-the-perils-of-scorching-bilateral-ties/article68054471.ece

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