India, as it stands today, stands in an extremely unprecedented situation today concerning her standing in External Affairs. The sporadic skirmish with China has blown out of proportion and the thaw looks extremely inhospitable. The Afghan Peace Process, which has got her formal inauguration at the recently held talks at Doha, seems to worry the diplomatic circles of India, and rightly so.
Pakistan has always been the brother-enemy and Nepal’s freshly gained antipathy against India looks like a toddler’s outcry at most, but yet, being a strategic partner, one cannot ignore even the naive squabble of a neighbour that has culturally been part of the Indian ethos. The same goes for Bangladesh, for her growing intimacy with China for reasons of trade and infrastructure development has inched closer to China. And Sri-lanka, of course, after handing over the strategic Hambantota Port to the Chinese for a long 99 year period, seems to find solace in the debt relief being offered by Beijing.
Diplomacy is not and will never be a zero-sum game. Diplomacy consists of varying grey areas. And this is where multilateralism comes into play. Thanks to the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), India is a party to almost all the organisations, that could be dubbed as enemies in a white-paper on security alliances. We are a part of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), which consists of China, Pakistan and Russia.
SCO is also a tactical military alliance and it also has an anti-terror regime based at Tashkent. India has accused Pakistan of fomenting terrorism on her land (and rightly so) and is a member of the anti-terror structure of an organisation of which Pakistan itself is a part of. Is the assumption flawed? Of course no. Because being a party to a group that consists of Pakistan as a member does not condone Pakistan from its responsibility of abetting and supporting terrorism.
On one side, we have the SCO; on the other, we are actively engaged in buttressing Quad as a group. Quad, often dubbed as China or ASIAN-NATO or mini-NATO, is also a somewhat security alliance whose principal proposition is to ensure rules-based-order and freedom of navigation (especially in the Indo-Pacific). This is to buttress again the fact that one could be a party, a friend or a diplomatic friend to one side without being a diplomatic enemy to the other.