Trilateral Approach | Editorial

A new way to resolve Pak-India disputes
The Chinese envoy to New Delhi has launched the idea of a trilateral mechanism comprising China, India and Pakistan for security cooperation on the sidelines of the SCO . To allay Indian susceptibilities it was not presented as a proposal from the Chinese government. Luo Zhaohui in fact said that it had come from Indian officials or experts and that he agreed with them.
The statement shows that the idea has the support of a section of the Indian public opinion. The view also reveals a nuanced change in Beijing’s traditional position that China has no intention of getting involved in bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan. Security cooperation is after all one of the three pillars of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). As Pakistan and India are already agreeable to conduct joint military drills together with other SCO members, there should be no reason for them to reject the idea of a trilateral moot. Zhaohui’s observation, that India and China cannot afford another Doklam, should make Pakistan and India ponder over whether they can forever maintain a costly confrontation over the Kashmir dispute. The position taken by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs that India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and do not allow the involvement of any third country is no more tenable after both decided to join the SCOs .
Zhaohui meanwhile realises that the idea being altogether new it may take time to strike roots. Not only the old prejudices stand in the way but certain ground realities also act as temporary hindrances. While the July 25 elections will install a new government in Pakistan, it will take months for the administration to settle down. Next year it is India’s turn to hold elections. Only after the two governments are back in the saddle can one expect them to take up the matter for discussion. This can be further delayed on account of mutual misunderstandings, opposition from certain lobbies and in the case of India suspicions about China’s closeness to Pakistan. But the suggestion being a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel, it is bound to be taken up sooner or later.

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