A defriended Iran in China’s camp; and Delhi has no tipping point.

[Jask, located at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, would give the Chinese a strategic vantage point on the waters through which much of the world’s oil transits.Credit…Orbital Horizon/Gallo Images, via Getty Images]

Some 2-3 years back or so, I received an emailed letter from a Joint Secretary in MEA asking for what I thought India’s foreign policy priorities should be. It was perhaps a form letter sent out to others as well. I thought it was a bit late in the day for the Modi regime to ask for policy recommendations four years into its first term, and to me signaled an official acknowledgement that the earlier priorities — whatever they were — hadn’t worked. Nevertheless, I dutifully wrote back listing them with thumbnail justifications for each of them.

The list repeated the priorities I had, incidentally, put on a paper and handed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2014 the only time he had called me in for “consultation”. I was part of an odd assortment of analysts, MEA beat reporters, a television channel’s “strategic affairs expert”, an owner-cum-editor-in-chief, and such like. Each of us had 5-minutes and then were treated to the PM’s ideas about this and that but mainly his achievements in Gujarat. There were no official note-takers, no follow-up, and the whole thing was a waste of time.

In contrast was the session I had (along with one or two other analysts) with Dr. Manmohan Singh over breakfast in mid-September 2004 on the eve of his first visit to the US to attend the UN General Assembly meeting. It was a proper and meaty discussion with lot of exchanges and the prime minister asking questions. On the PM’s side of the table were arrayed, among others, the NSA, Mani Dixit, and his Personal Private Secretary, TKA Nair (ex-IAS, Punjab cadre), both busily taking notes. I remember urging the PM to speak to President George W. Bush when they met on the sidelines in Hotel Astoria in New York about the need for a fairer, more equitable, nuclear order, failing to realize which, to say, India would feel free to test again and do whatever else was necessary to beef up its nuclear security. I also suggested he reinforce this message to the US government by repeating it publicly while in that city.

Gratifyingly, Singh told Bush what I had suggested, and repeated these points in a speech delivered a day later at an NRI function on Long Island. Perhaps, alarmed by what Bush heard, Washington got to work and, in conjunction with the usual suspects at this end, quickly turned Manmohan Singh. By the time the PM next visited the US in July 2005 he had committed to the strategically disastrous civilian nuclear cooperation deal that furthered the US nuclear nonproliferation goals by, for all intents and purposes, prohibiting the resumption of nuclear tests by India. The deal was negotiated by the then Joint Secretary (Americas) in MEA — one Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The relentless criticism by a few of us about the prospective deal during the time it was being negotiated in 2005-2008 was used by Jaishankar — so he let it be known — to temper the ask by the US negotiators. (Just how merciless and on-point the criticism was may be gauged from reading the op-eds and other writings in that period by the four of us — Drs PK Iyengar, former chairman Atomic Energy Commission, AN Prasad, former director BARC and head of the plutonium reprocessing unit, and A Gopalakrishnan, ex-chairman, Atomic Regulatory Commission, and myself compiled in a 2009 book ‘Strategic Sellout: Indo-American Nuclear Deal’). Considering Jaishankar gave away the store in the most one-sided deal imaginable, one wonders what he thinks he got from the Americans. And, of course, I wasn’t called for consultation by Manmohan Singh again.

To revert to the session with Modi at 7, Race Course Road, given the time constraints I only argued the importance of the country using its hard power strategically. And in the paper given to the PM, I listed what his foreign and military policy priorities should be, reprising in bullet points some of the themes featured in my writings and books, particularly ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’ published a year later in 2015. The priorities included restarting open-ended nuclear testing, treating China as primary threat, using the Taiwan and Tibet cards and equating Tibet and Kashmir as leverage against Beijing, nuclear missile arming Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations as a belated coercive counter to China’s deliberate transfer of nuclear weapons and missiles to Pakistan, and accelerated development of Indian air and naval bases in the Indian Ocean and points east (Northern Mozambique, North & South Agalega Islands in Mauritius, Trincomalee in Sri Lanka, Seychelles, the former RAF base on Gan Island in the Maldives, Na Thrang ion the central Vietnamese coast, etc) and particularly of relations with Iran as India’s strategic linchpin pivoting on the Chahbahar port.

Six years into his tenure and a year into his second term as prime minister, Modi has flapped around endlessly on terrorism and Pakistan, supplicated the Trump Administration on the H1B visa issue in the process encouraging Indian IT talent to be siphoned off to the US, signed the ‘foundational accords’, and tried to win some goodwill by buying high-value US military hardware, only to be rebuffed by Washington. The H1B visa was closed and there is little else to show for Modi’s hug and bumble diplomatic efforts. And he has tried to cultivate the Chinese supremo Xi Jinping with worse results. India got kneecapped in Ladakh. Modi is obviously a glutton for punishment because he is still pursuing a conciliatory China policy propelled by his own, strangely pacific, instincts where China is concerned backed by his MEA minion S. Jaishankar’s wrong advice.

It is clear the Indian government historically has had no clue about how to deal with China, and the Modi regime is as befuddled, relying as all previous regimes have done on the China Study Group/Circle to give policy direction. The CSG comprises a changing bunch of usually bumptious and blundering mandarin-speaking Sinophiles from MEA, intelligence agencies, and the military who are strategic dupes — latter day versions of Richard Condon’s ‘Manchurian candidates’ beavering away to advance Chinese interests. Modi has, however, compounded his and CSG’s mistakes of going overboard with China with his equally feckless policy of alienating almost all nations in South Asia and in the extended region, especially Iran. The result is a collision of policy streams that is sinking the Indian national interest with China emerging as the short and long term tactical and strategic beneficiary. It is almost as if Delhi had been taking dictation from Beijing!

Iran, the supposed linchpin of India’s Afghanistan and Central Asia policy, feels so defriended by India, so isolated, and so threatened by the US, it has not only economically signed on with China but has agreed to be its stalking horse in the Gulf. In 2008, the then head of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari remarked at the opening of the naval base at Bandar-e-Jask that Iran was “creating a new defense front in the region, thinking of a non-regional enemy.” Doubtless, the non-regional enemy was America. Iran has now alighted on a military partnership with China to neutralize it.

Soon to be finalized is Tehran’s 25-year agreement that New York Times reports, will in furtherance of the Belt & Road Initiative result in China investing $400 billion in Iranian infrastructure, including the development of free-trade zones in Maku in northwestern Iran, Abadan at the confluence of the Shatt al-Arab river and the Persian Gulf, and on Queshm, a Gulf island; the build-up of that country’s 5G telecommunications network, and help to create Iran’s own Global Positioning System and even an Iranian version of the cyber Chinese Great Wall to control domestic cyber space and to keep the US and Western countries from waging cyber offensives.

In exchange, an energy starved China will be permitted to daily offtake 8.5 million barrels of oil — the minimum necessary output for Iran to remain a viable oil producer and, more significantly, to use the Iranian base at Bandar-e-Jask for its naval operations. Considering the location of Jask on the Hormuz Strait at the mouth of the Gulf, the Iranian and Chinese navies between them will be able to dominate maritime traffic to and from the Gulf and pose no end of trouble for the US 5th Fleet out of Bahrain. It may compel the US to speedily relocate its forces in the region to Duqm on the coast of Oman, being developed as a modern US military base, as a more secure berthing for its warships and army and air force contingents onshore. The current Iran Navy chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi’s exulting to Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, in the wake of a recent trilateral Iranian-Russian-Chinese naval exercise that “the era of American invasions in the region is over” will have added weight once the Sino-Iranian deal is signed and PLAN deploys its ships at Bandar-e-Jask.

The presence of the Chinese Navy in Jask will be still more problematic for India. Perhaps, one of the reasons Beijing chose it for naval positioning was because it was bothered by the prospect of the Indian Navy active ex-Chahbahar 76 nautical miles up the coast on Gwadar’s flank. With Jask, 157 nautical miles to the west of Chahbahar, in hand, and combined with its base in Djibouti, PLAN will be able to shut the Indian Navy out of the Gulf, or at least to force it to remain inactive and to practice extreme caution with regard to Gwadar. This is a beautiful Chinese strategic counter-move.

The situation is far worse for India because Delhi, under US pressure, has decelerated its project to develop Chahbahar. So while India has committed $500 million to it the absence of any real buildup may result in Tehran asking India to vacate Chahbahar altogether. That would be a tragedy beyond comprehension for India’s strategic interests in the larger region. Nevertheless, it is a real possibility because with Delhi failing to firm up comprehensive economic links with Iran in the last decade when it desperately needed friends and counted on India to come through by signing up for long term oil supply, etc and because Delhi began tacking ever more fully to the American wind that may cease at any time, the Rouhani regime in Tehran apparently feels it has no incentive to be nice to India. So to add to India’s mounting foreign policy problems, Modi has now, in effect, gone and lost Iran to China.

But there seems to be no relief anywhere else, certainly not in eastern Ladakh where, like the government, the Indian army too appears more eager to jaw-jaw with the Chinese than to prepare to fight the PLA if the Chinese refuse to withdraw completely from the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Pangong Tso and the Depsang areas, leave alone occupy the heights on the eastern bank of the Shyok River on the Galwan to protect the DSDBO Road. The PLA, moreover, is so well ensconced on the lake and at these two sites, the military level meetings — the 4th round is ongoing as I write this and, like the previous rounds, will also be infructuous — are meant to reach a dead end. These are exercises to test India’s military tipping point.

In this context, the Xi government seems to be almost daring Prime Minister Modi to order military action to evict the Chinese military from Indian land but is confident the Indian PM won’t do so. Xi, for his own reasons, is probably itching to find out what the PLA is capable of because if India can be easily cowed as the evidence shows it can be, intimidating lesser states in Southeast Asia and on the South China Sea will be easier game, even with US aircraft carriers in the vicinity. In this context, the speed with which the Indian army has adhered to the vague disengagement protocol suggests it is pretty slack and unwilling to force the issue on the ground.

Pangong Tso, the Galwan and the Depsang are far away from Delhi and the PLA’s dawdling on Indian territory would be enough provocation for a tough-minded Indian army chief and theatre commander to say enough is enough and initiate rapid and forceful actions to kick the PLA out of these areas and even annex some Chinese claimed land. Alas, India has long lacked such army chiefs and theatre commanders who will force Delhi’s hand by starting hard and sustained action to deflate China’s military pretensions and strategic designs. It would do India’s reputation a lot of good. Except, the Indian armed services give every indication of doing nothing, chancing nothing, in the hope things will somehow work out, but they won’t unless it is to advantage China.

Indeed, the Modi government seems so frightened of Xi’s China, it couldn’t even muster the courage to slam Beijing at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva July 2 for illegally absorbing Hong Kong. This forum, by the way, is routinely used by Beijing to bash India on Kashmir. Instead the Indian Special Representative Rajiv Chander on Delhi’s instructions mumbled this: “Given the large Indian community that makes Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China it’s home, India has been keeping a close watch on recent developments. We have heard several statements expressing concerns about these developments. We hope the relevant parties will take into account these views and address them properly, seriously and objectively.” He didn’t even name China! And some of us expect the Indian government and army to forcefully kick the Chinese out of Indian Ladakh?

The truth is the Indian government seems to have no backbone, no point where its humiliation tips over into anger and use of force against China. Even indirectly threatening China by nuclear missile arming Vietnam — the only country to induce respect and wariness in Beijing, is an option tremulous and weak-minded Indian governments in the last 35 years, including the present one run by Modi, have eschewed. India thus enjoys a special status with Asian states who once looked upon it as ‘security provider’ — as a country beneath contempt.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Africa, asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific, Asian geopolitics, Central Asia, China, China military, civil-military relations, Culture, Cyber & Space, Decision-making, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Intelligence, Iran and West Asia, Maldives, MEA/foreign policy, nonproliferation, NRIs, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, SAARC, society, South Asia, South East Asia, space & cyber, Sri Lanka, Strategic Forces Command, Taiwan, Tibet, UN, United States, US., Vietnam. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to A defriended Iran in China’s camp; and Delhi has no tipping point.

  1. Sohamg says:

    Has Delhi finally woken up and will it use Taiwan against China as you advocate? I heard the Andaman naval base project is being accelerated and the along with the Vietnam Brahmos deal?

  2. Bhaskar says:

    Dear Sir,
    With the recent developments on Iran front, do you believe that Iran is a lost cause now.

    Have we thrown away all our ties including fuel imports from Iran altogether and the access to Chabahar port in particular? From the China perspective do they depend solely now on the sea lines for transport or some road through Pakistan is a possibility..?

  3. Tony says:

    The generals of Indian army and I saw from experience are too feminine and fond of big life with every vice that it entails and I write this with extreme caution and regret and they are no different to supreme leader whose many faults will become apparent when bhajan mandli have chai pe charcha with “doctor ji ” .

  4. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    Another wonderfully articulate work by Mr. Karnad. Please give your opinion about Pakistani strategic situation post this deal. Will Pakistan benefit from this Iran-China deal and in what ways? Thanks and regards with best wishes

  5. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    So now, China will get all the central asian gas via BRI, and we will import from the opposite side of the world to ‘balance’ the trade surplus.

    May be a good thing though – whole continent of Asia needed a leadership. Otherwise, Asians would keep fighting among themselves for a long long time.

  6. Joydeep Sircar
    bharat karnad

    Wed, 15 Jul at 12:34 pm

    l remember you cried yourself hoarse over lndia’s stoppage of buying crude from lran for fear of annoying USA.

    You have not examined Modi’s DNA. He comes from a timid trading community background. He belongs to a baniya party whose gurus had little beyond lslamophobia to offer as a guide : the BJP had no realistic world vision, no China policy. Then he was taken to USA when young and got permanently bedazzled. Naturally he sleepwalked into the leprous embrace of Trump. He did not enjoy the luxury of a bipolar world as Indira did.

    You are right to reprove Modi for mishandling lran and lacking the backbone to stand up to the USA, but once Pakistan went into Chinas pocket, lndia had no chance to keep lran on its side even if it had bought lranian oil. Islam has no place for a powerful hindu lndia, and American hostility would have forced lran into China’s camp even without the $400 billion bait. India is a victim of history.

    The stupid greedy insensitive Americans have royally screwed up the world in their blind russophobia, bringing China out of isolation and poverty to act as a counterweight to Russia. A nation of musclebound morons, they never learnt the diplomatic finesse of the old British empire. It is only now they are saying what they did for the last fifty years was all wrong. They happily shopped and helped China build up a war chest of 3 trillion, they happily let China steal their technology and military secrets. Now that China has grown into a malevolent giant, they are wringing their hands and saying mea culpa and trying to put together an alliance to stop the Chinese steamroller. We will not be allowed to live peacefully by China and Pakistan, poor Russia needs Chinese money too much to stand by us against China. What choice do we have except ally ourselves with USA?

    l expect USA will be able to defeat China if it comes to war and Russia refuses to join China – Russia has its own worries over Siberia. China will therefore try to defeat USA by influencing politicians in USA, a stupid, corrupt, greedy lot, and effect a political climate change in its favour. The cowardly USA will then have no hesitation in betraying its allies for a deal that will leave us totally vulnerable, like South Vietnam after the US withdrawal.

    J. Sircar

    • vivek says:

      truly said ..But if u see history, no country can rule forever , Time will come when some other country will take lead position (clearly seems china), it would be india if politicians have had required mindset to rightly navigate country. When it come to war ,Siberia issue can wait, Russia will support China, not because of SCO but it is one of country which will gain more by fall of US

    • Sankar says:

      I agree with you on Modi but not on what you say on Americans. It is recorded in history, that in the early 1900s USA wanted Britain to get out of India. But the world political stage drastically changed when WWI broke out and the USA’s focus changed from British India. Then again afterward, USA pressured Britain not to balkanize India which as the colonial power Britain was trying to execute and it resulted only in the creation of Pakistan, not further splitting. After WWII when the present UN structure was being formed, the USA offered India to be a permanent Security Council member against Britain’s stand. It all fizzled out when the newly created Indian State under the leadership of Nehru refused to go along and in their naivety offered China the seat! Also, after the Korean war, US intelligence has been all along advising India that China is an hegemonistic, expanding power. But Delhi refused to accept that assessment which finally resulted in the 1962 Chinese aggression and loss of century-old Indian sovereign territory,e.g. Khurnak fort etc. Furthermore, in recent years, the Indian military is for the first time in history learning power projection in the international world by engaging IAF in joint exercise with USAF since 2008 (?). There have been some minuses, but in my book many more pluses – IAF is learning the technology of Electronic Warfare as part of the US AOC program with opening a buro in Bengalaru. Even in the past decade, the US has been all along alerting India that China is consolidating and expanding their military bases by passing on satellite imagery. But everything has fallen on deaf ears in Delhi.

      • Don’t know about the 1900s, but President Franklin D Roosevelt certainly pressured Churchill to announce freedom for India to incentivize Indians to wholeheartedly support the Allied cause in WW-II. But FDR did not persist and the British PM did not commit.

      • gerald says:

        Once again the wisdom and Vision of Mr Karnad has been shown.I have followed his writings on India (a country that has always interested me) for years and noticed how prescient his judgement has been.On the other hand, when reading this Joydeep Sircar’s letter one cannot fail to notice that Indians seem to overhype Anglo-Saxon power. For instance he mentions the British being somehow good at strategy, which was proved false at Gallipoli, Malaya and Singapore. Also, he says that America can defeat China militarily, which is also very doubtful. Isn’t he aware of the Korean War when a backward and poor China the then greatest military power to retreat? There is, in fact, no indication America can defeat China militarily.Finally he seems to think that America helped China out of isolation and poverty because of Russophobia. But actually it was the Chinese that started the anti-Russian alliance not the strategically dull Americans.That reveals a profound misperception of Anglo-Saxon p power(overestimation IMHO) and why Indians might have sided with Washington as regards Iran when they should have courted the Iranians.

    • Tony says:

      Trading requires guts to take risks , there is no trader worth his her salt who doesnt have risk reward inbuilt DNA . Gujaratis like Punjabis and Marwaris are first and formost businessman which involves breathing risks in and out on daily basis. And by the way defence minister is Thakur and not to mention Panditji follies so please keep caste creed things aside.

  7. amannationalist says:

    What are your views on QUAD??

    • In my 2018 book (‘Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India;s Global Ambition’) , I have detailed a modified Quad or Mod Quad of India, Japan, Australia and a group of Southeast Asian nations that will serve India’s strategic interests better.


    Sad story of incompetence and ineptitude. These RSS dodos have absolutely no strategic ideas. We are losing friends in the neighbourhood.

  9. Vaibhav says:

    Bharat ji please take note.

    India signed a MoU with Vietnam in 2018 to ‘expand cooperation in nuclear energy’. If India supplies Vietnam with civil nuclear know-how through this cooperation, will that be enough to make Vietnam a nuclear threshold state on par with Japan? (Japan’s nuclear know-how is so advanced that they probably don’t need to test to operationalize a basic 15 kiloton fission bomb)

    Secondly, Bharat ji, have you been offered a job in the National Security Council by the government? You deserve one. (you need not answer this question if you don’t want to)

    May God bless you with a long life.

  10. Kunal ( ENGINEERING STUD) says:

    Iran never wanted us to complete Chabahar, they were only using us as a pawn in their negotiations with the west over their nuclear programme & sponsorship of Terrorism.
    Is that true

  11. Sankar says:

    Excellent strategic analysis – I wonder how many in India are capable to absorb the essence presented here.
    In my understanding, Modi (and BJP) was elected “by default” as one says in computer jargon. There was a total vacuum reigning in the political power structure in Delhi due to years of silence by MMS and so they had to go. As one says in a democracy the Government of the day loses or wins the election and that is what happened in 2014.
    A glaring deficiency, as was pointed out in the news when he first came to power, has been Modi’s command in the English language – he simply could not fathom the official correspondences and other policy documents written in English presented to him as the PM. So he called the high level secretaries to give him a rundown of the contents in the files without first reading these himself. Hence he has been captive to whatever his officials presented to him verbally. And the “killer instinct” is missing in his DNA unlike what Indira Gandhi possessed – a disastrous situation for a prime ministerial position.
    As for Jaishankar, he is the son of the strategist Subrahmanyam highly regarded in India. Subrahmanyam has been recorded in his nuclear policy stand, that India does not need to experiment any further with nuclear explosions since by computer simulation technology in the laboratory one can gain all knowledge and expertise in nuclear weapons production! What an idiotic stand to take if I may say so – no nuclear scientist worth his salt would swallow that nonsense. Subrahmanyam had no concept of nuclear forces yet he formulated nuclear policy.
    A propos Iran, I do not think China will ever be in a commanding position politically there. Iranians are far more astute than Indians in the international strategic world. They have never been subjugated and conquered in history – the Iranian state has always been independent. Iran is driving its own strategic interest – if required, they will turn back from China and come towards India at a time of their choosing.

  12. Sankar says:

    @Prfoessor Karnad:
    “Don’t know about the 1900s” – My source of that information goes back to my interaction with a University academic in the past who had specialized in Internation Relations and Government. The period in question could be 1900-1914, true very rare information, definitely not in Delhi archives. Even if it is in British archives, unlikely they will make it available, if it is possible it can be traced somewhere in the US. In those days correspondences between international states did not happen in the present-day form nor were much documentation kept. If it is there, it will be in a cryptic form to be deciphered. The former British PM Tony Blair has openly said some time ago that the creation of Pakistan was the greatest blunder of the Empire. On an aside, I think the officials in charge of foreign policy in Delhi are hopeless in driving Indian Foreign policy. It does not get into their head that the boundary between India and China will be settled only by fighting militarily, not by diplomacy. And their political advice to the elected power-holders is thus useless. I have come across a statement by the ex FS Sibal to the effect something like “we have said that Tibet belongs to Chinese sovereign territory’ – an absurd policy statement to make. Who the hell are the Indians to decide whether Tibet is part of China or not – it is for the Tibetans to take that decision. So not just the political leadership is to be faulted, their advisers also. Nehru suffered from an illusion of grandeur, and the present incumbent from the illusion of development whatever that may mean.

    • Actually, the UK Govt’s Records Office at Kew, Surrey, outside London is the repository for the official archives. If there was any such approach from the US it’d be there.

  13. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    Mr Karnad sir, did Pakistan have anything to do with this deal and will Islamabad in any way benefit from this deal? Thanks and regards with best wishes. Debanjan

  14. ARINDAM BORA says:

    It seems that the Indian Army top brass have finally realized the necessity of a light tank for operations across the high altitude and mountainous Northern Frontier. Your views have been vindicated, although I don’t expect the tanks to be on the ground anytime soon (I would be glad if they did) and in large enough numbers to be of any operational consequence by themselves.

    Why did it take the military so long and multiple ‘fait accompli’ to even consider procuring those machines? They must have known it all along but still so much ‘inertia’.

    • Inertia, absolutely.

      • ARINDAM BORA says:

        What are the chances that if a Light Tank is procured it would be from an indigeneous source? After all the FICV GSQR mandated that it should also be a platform that could be developed into a Light Tank. So I guess the Indian companies have already done some work to that end. It could be a successful indigenous design, development and manufacturing story which no probable license production of Russian Sprut-SD can match.

      • Bangladesh is not adversarial. The case I have made is for first nuclear use (in my latest book — ‘Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition’) because it is not the number of missiles, etc. but the definite loss of Shanghai and the surrounding biggest wealth-producing regions of China that Beijing needs to contend with. Hence my recommendation of getting the Arihant in firing position).

  15. Ab says:

    Two points: 1. The Chahbar loss can’t entirely to be blamed to India. Iranian are the ones who have been stalling (publically known since 2017) the project.
    2. The risk aversion by any Indian politician is primarily for democracy challenge we face. We can’t think beyond re-election. This risk aversion has infiltrated bureaucracy as well as Army. It has nothing to do with Modi’s “Islamphobia” (as mentioned in comments here). In fact, our Pakistan policy is and will continue to be a failure as long we don’t address the basic problem. The Two-Nation-Theory is a problem of ideology. It is Wahabism which created it & what drives it. Unfortunately, many including the author don’t address it as it is.

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