India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan on the issue of exporting terror have shown results in the South Asian region with three other countries pulling out of the scheduled Saarc meet in Islamabad, say experts, noting that India can accelerate its engagement with other regional forums such as Bimstec.
India stepped up its efforts to mount international pressure on Pakistan after a terror attack in Uri earlier this month in which 18 soldiers were killed. India has blamed the attack on militants from Pakistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the perpetrators of the Uri attack will not go unpunished. In a speech on Sunday last before the BJP National Council meeting in Kerala, he said India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan globally had been successful.
Two days later, India pulled out of the Saarc summit to be held in Pakistan in November. Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also followed suit.
C. Uday Bhaskar, security analyst and Director, Society for Policy Studies, said India has been successful in isolating Pakistan in the regional context.
“In the regional context, India has been quite successful. The fact that Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan have joined India in conveying their inability to attend the summit in Islamabad is indicative,” Bhaskar told IANS.
He, however, said it would be “misleading to infer from this partial support within Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation)” that Pakistan has been globally isolated.
“The major powers, that is United States, China and Russia, remain either committed to, or are willing to remain engaged with Rawalpindi,” he said.
Uday Bhaskar said that if India can totally isolate Pakistan from the Saarc, it would be a “major achievement”, but it cannot be a permanent solution.
“If India can steer Saarc in this direction (excluding Pakistan), it would be a major achievement. But the door must be left open for a reformed Pakistan to be re-admitted,” he said.
Former Foreign Secretary Shashank said it is difficult to say at this stage if Pakistan can be excluded from Saarc.
“India is trying its best to put pressure on Pakistan diplomatically, but it is difficult to say at this stage whether Pakistan can be excluded from Saarc,” he said.
He pointed out that India has other regional cooperation forums such as Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) which involves Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
Ex-diplomat G. Parthasarthy, a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, told IANS that “perhaps, for India, Bimstec and Quadrilateral Security Dialogue can take precedence over Saarc and the present Indian efforts could be a precursor to that”.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) involves India, the US, Japan and Australia. Initiated in 2007, it is seen as a move to counter the increasing Chinese economic and military influence.
India has invited leaders from Bimstec members to participate in the retreat that will follow the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa next month.
India has been moving on several fronts against Pakistan as part of its response in the wake of the Uri terror attack.
A meeting has been convened on Thursday to review the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan, while the government has also decided to revisit the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty with the neighbouring country. India has also replied strongly to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s attempts to raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly.