M D Nalapat
Although as yet far behind in quantitative terms, the Indian elite see their country as China’s equal. While rates of growth have decelerated in China since the 1980s,they have accelerated in India. And like Pakistan, the second most-populous country in the world has a young population, while China’s is ageing. By 2027, the effect of this is expected to boost India’s prospects of catching up with what will at that time be the world’s largest economy (in Purchasing Power Parity terms), China. Hence it was with anger that South Block, the home of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of external Affairs, heard of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s “blank cheque” to the Chinese Communist Party to mediate the Indo-Pakistan dispute.
Earlier, US President Barack Obama had made a cringing visit to China, during which he had generously made to the Chinese leadership the offer first made by Bill Clinton 13 years earlier, of partnering with Washington in “managing” India-Pakistan relations. That offer had led to the mistrust of Obama that today pervades the Indian establishment Why did Foreign Minister Qureshi make such a statement just two days before Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two sub continental neighbours? He would certainly have been aware of the strong Indian distaste of involving any country in the bilateral tango between India and Pakistan, especially China, which since 1963 has been aligned with Islamabad in its bid to limit Delhi’s freedom of action. There are three theories doing the rounds within Raisina Road, the Indian Beltway.