Over the past year or so, India has been trying hard to get Masood Azhar declared as a ‘global terrorist’ at the United Nations (UN). Time and again, it has been blocked by Pakistan’s ‘all-weather’ friend, China, which commands a veto in the United Nations Security Council.
Touted as one of the ‘biggest hurdles’, policy makers agree that China is a huge roadblock in the fight against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why India desperately wants to be a permanent part of the UN’s Security Council – a move supported by the United States (US) but blocked by China. Practically anything at the UN which is against Pakistan is blocked by China – which begs the question of whether our strategy is at fault, or whether we are just the ‘softest power’, internationally.
Perhaps, India is indeed a ‘soft power’. Not that I doubt my country’s efforts in helping nations around the world, curbing terrorism and economic development – but I also think that India is ‘weak’ at the international stage. After all, our diplomacy in countering Pakistan mostly depends on the US’ protection of India. Regionally too, we may have some weight in the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – but when it comes to the UN and other international forums, we often falter and do not go beyond saying that ‘terrorism is the greatest threat to our world’, that ‘it must be curbed’ and that ‘there is no distinction between good or bad terror’.
What the world wishes to see is action. Our non-alignment policy has been great, but now we are capable of conducting operations and fighting against cross-border terrorism. We have conducted ‘surgical strikes’, which indicates that we can do a fine job in peacekeeping in countries. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it seems that the government also worries that the greater the loss (collateral damage) inflicted by such activities, the greater will be the loss in their voter base.
Diplomatically speaking, we could get Russia on board to help us in the UN. A trifecta of US, Russia and India can help maintain regional stability. But, this is all useless until we take down people like Hafiz Saeed (who’s sitting in Pakistan, and allegedly has the clandestine support of the state).
For India to expect permanent membership at the UN Security Council is premature and unlikely in the short term. We may try to block known and wanted terrorists at the international stage as many times as we like, but we are likely to fail in the current scenario. If we can somehow succeed in designating Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ and then banning him, it will be nothing short of a miracle. Till then, India is practically alone in bringing this fight to the UN.