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India China/Pak Relations Preliminary Prognostication

Stability of relations with key adversarial neighbours Pakistan and China is essential yet beginning of India China and India Pakistan relations for Modi 3.0 is not positive and for any hopes of restoration of ties the trajectory is steep for now. Here is a review why?

India China Engagement

Chinese Premier Li Qiang on June 11 congratulated PM Narendra Modi for his historic third straight term, days after the PM took oath at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Chinese ambassador to India, Xu Feihong, shared a post on X, stating that the Chinese Premier extended congratulations to PM Narendra Modi. "Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang extended congratulations to Shri Narendra Modi @narendramodi on his new term as the Prime Minister of India," he said in a post on X. Li emphasized that  China is willing to work with India to push forward bilateral relations in the right direction. On June 5 China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning stated on X, "Congratulations to Prime Minister @narendramodi, BJP and the National Democratic Alliance on the election victory. We look forward to a healthy & stable China-India relationship." While addressing press , Mao Ning noted that a "healthy and stable" relationship between New Delhi and Beijing is in the mutual interest of both sides. "

After these positive vibes including the arrival of Ambassador Xu Feihong in Delhi after a gap of 18 months there were recriminations over reference of Jammu and Kashmir in the China Pakistan joint statement on the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Mr Shahbaz Sharif to China during the month. Reacting to the reference, Official Spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Shri Randhir Jaiswal said on June 13, "We have noted unwarranted references to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir in the joint statement between China and Pakistan of 07 June 2024. We categorically reject such references. Our position on the issue is consistent and well known to the concerned parties. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh have been, are and will always remain integral and inalienable parts of India. No other country has the locus standi to comment on the same”.

On the related issue of China Pakistan economic corridor Mr Jaiswal stated, “The same joint statement also mentions activities and projects under the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), some of which are in India's sovereign territory under forcible and illegal occupation by Pakistan. We resolutely oppose and reject any moves by other countries to reinforce or legitimise Pakistan's illegal occupation of these territories, impinging on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Clearly the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is now a bone of contention between China and Pakistan on one side and India on the other. While the former contend that this is a bilateral issue and a dispute India has been unequivocally stating that this is an internal one.

Such a divergent approach would imply that there is unlikely to be any meeting ground in the near future. With China continued standoff on the Line of Actual Control [LAC] in Eastern Ladakh is another major hindrance for normalization of ties even though Beijing is insisting that this should not impact the same.

India Pakistan Relatons

While greetings on Prime Minister Mr Modi’s inauguration have been received from Pakistan as well from Mr Shahbaz Sharif has congratulated him on a X Post but there has been no formal letter sent to India.

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson clarified on June 13 in a media briefing that there were no exchange of letter "Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has already congratulated Narendra Modi via a tweet when he assumed office. It is customary for governments to formally congratulate the elected leaders of other countries," she said.

With Pakistan the spike in terrorist attacks in Jammu region of the Union territory in the past one week with the killing of pilgrims visiting the revered shrine of Vaishno Devi is also expected to be a key hurdle now. Terrorists  almost simultaneously carried out attacks at four places in Reasi, Kathua and Doda districts of Jammu and Kashmir over the past four days, killing nine pilgrims and a Central Reserve Police Force jawan and seven security personnel and several others injured. Two suspected Pakistani terrorists were also killed in an encounter with security forces in Kathua.

A special meeting was held by the Prime Minister Mr Modi prior to departure for the G 7 Summit where it is said that, "The prime minister asked them to deploy the full spectrum of our counter-terror capabilities," an official source was quoted by the media.

While there was some speculation on opening of trade between the two sides by the political leadership in Pakistan, it is evident that this may have been premature and the military is not on board.

High Level Engagement Deficit

Finally diplomatic contacts between India and Pakistan are sparse, while that with China are mainly restricted to the ongoing military and working level talks for resolution of the impasse in Eastern Ladakh. With limited engagement there are moves to kick start at least track two dialogue with some meetings ostensibly held. How far this will work to lead to breaking the logjam remains to be seen?

The beginning of India China and India Pakistan relations for Modi 3.0 is thus not positive and for any hopes of restoration of ties to a level of stability the trajectory is steep for now.


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