Setting an example
China and India deserve credit for handling the fallout of last year’s eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation in the disputed Doklam area with great maturity. Firstly, they did not let the accusations and counter accusations infringe upon commerce. Secondly, they kept up diplomatic engagement instead of calling it off, like India does with its other neighbour. And now that some time has passed and temperatures have cooled further, President Xi and Prime Minister Modi have promised to keep border tensions under control after a very friendly, comfortable and informal set of meetings.
Incidentally, this comes just as the leaders of North and South Korea met in a historic meeting that ended 70 years of hostility. Chinese President Xi, it turns out, was the difference-maker in the Korean thaw as well. There are encouraging trends, then, in the Asian region that other countries, locked in disputes since forever, should follow. Governments in this day and age can no longer hold people hostage to grievances of a bygone era.
Everybody would be a lot better off, of course, if New Delhi brought the same maturity it exhibited in China to the negotiating table with Pakistan as well. For starters, why should trade relations continue to suffer because of the politicians’ inability to hammer out solutions to outstanding issues? And what purpose does calling off diplomatic back-and-forth really achieve? For the last few years the Modi administration has also gone on a rampage in Kashmir; blinding half a generation in its attempt to crush a hundred percent indigenous uprising. Pakistan, at least in the outgoing electoral cycle, has made repeated attempts at re-engagement, offering talks on all issues, especially core points, so definitive progress can finally be made. Unfortunately, the Indian side seems reluctant to break out of the status quo for the moment. The maturity it seems is restricted to China.