India has been acting quite like the regional bully since the Modi administration came to New Delhi, but it may have bitten off more than it can chew with the Himalayan border dispute with China. It has now become clear that the standoff was triggered by India's construction of roads and airstrips in the region, meant no doubt to facilitate troop movement, and the Chinese have made it clear that they are going to have none of it. That is why the usual dispute resolution mechanisms, which involve discussions at the regional level, are not working. The United States has offered to mediate, of course, but only minutes after President Trump's calculated remarks about Hong Kong and Taiwan, both meant to irritate Beijing. Besides, everybody knows where India stands in Washington's Pivot to Asia strategy, especially after the introduction of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which both America and India oppose vociferously. Therefore it's unlikely that American mediation will settle this matter for too long, because it is tainted, and unless India and China themselves come to an agreement very soon, the chances of this particular confrontation turning ugly seem pretty high.

Since the Indian government has not said anything at all on the matter, not even a brief official statement even though a number of its soldiers got injured in at least two incidents, the world has had to rely on news reports to try and connect the dots. And it appears that Delhi has been implementing a rather ambitious plan of constructing about 65-70 key roads, in addition to airstrips, close to the Chinese border, which can only mean that it intends to fiddle with the status quo down the road. That's definitely how it looks to the Chinese, hence the swift response from Beijing which has forced a shutdown of all construction activity inside Indian borders. These events lend weight to Pakistan's concerns that the Modi administration has been throwing its weight around the region ever since it came to power. As Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly tweeted, the Modi government “is becoming a threat to India's neighbours. Bangladesh through Citizenship Act, border disputes with Nepal and China, and Pak threatened with false flag operation." Also, as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi pointed out not much later, “India never missed an opportunity to impede the Afghan peace process."

Pakistan has been trying to warn the world about this worrying pattern for quite a while now. Yet, sadly, India's large market and the money it generates for some of the world's biggest multinationals has blinded governments to the policies it employs at the state level, especially in Occupied Kashmir. It is appalling that New Delhi revoked the occupied valley's special status and effectively shut it down in August last year yet the whole world, even countries that have made a habit of going to war just because some other countries do not respect human rights and all that, just stood by silently as if nothing had happened. And all the noise Islamabad has been making about India's aggressive, xenophobic policies, not to mention the threat of yet another false flag operation to turn the spotlight once again on Pakistan, must now make a lot more sense to the international community. Even though India never tires of using the terrorism card against Pakistan, the truth is that Islamabad has been offering the prospect of peace and negotiations on all outstanding issues since at least Nawaz Sharif's second administration in the late 1990s. The most significant of these was General Musharraf's four-point solution, which meant beyond all doubt that the army was also on board. And always, without exception, it has been the Indian side that bulldozed all efforts for peace.

Perhaps the time has come for the international community as well as Indians themselves to weigh just what Modi's extremist policies have got them; except uncertainty and aggression internationally and violence against minorities and a catastrophic economic collapse inside the country. The approximately $50 odd billion bet that international financial institutions, especially investment banks and hedge funds, made on Modi's India started unravelling long before the pandemic and the shutdown. He is leading India into international isolation and also effectively ending the country's reputation as a secular democracy. For the sake of India and the region, the Modi administration must be confronted, checked and stopped.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020