27 February, 2021

Neighbourly Wars

India wastes no time in isolating Pakistan. But making SAARC the next theatre of action might not be in India's interest.

Neighbourly Wars

It was a double whammy, an opportunity that just couldn't be missed: the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban, immediately followed by the SAARC summit in Kathmandu. Both scheduled less than a month after Gen Pervez Musharraf assumed command in Pakistan. Both God-sent opportunities to indulge in India's favourite pastime. But now, New Delhi's concerted and persistent attempts to rub Islamabad's nose in the dirt, while adopting the "I told-you-so" high moral ground, smacks of overkill. And dubious motives aren't hard to conjure.

Sabotaging SAARC was easy. Its charter allows any member state to postpone the summit on request. The Commonwealth, on its part, requires the automatic suspension of any member violating "certain fundamental political values". Something New Delhi is likely reiterate ad nauseam at Durban. Not willing to be identified as the spoilsport, New Delhi first asked other SAARC members to propose a deferment. But attempts to coax Dhaka or Kathmandu to be the first to request such a...

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