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All these visits are part of New Delhi’s push to strengthen its security cooperation with countries in West Asia, particularly those that have traditionally had good ties with Islamabad.
Foreign policy wonks in New Delhi have been critical of India for having pushed Pakistan into a corner where it had to cancel the National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks. But Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as the larger Sangh Parivar, is convinced this to be the first step in its mission to encircle and isolate Pakistan on the issue of terror.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be making several visits to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries in the months ahead. BJP strategists believe the rising threat of the ISIS will make OIC member states, their ties with Pakistan notwithstanding, to put pressure on state sponsors of terror.
The PM completed a successful visit to the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, signing an important agreement on security cooperation that will have the NSAs of the two countries meet twice a year. The UAE exercises influence on OIC member states of North Africa and West Asia.
Swaraj on Monday concluded a two-day visit to Egypt. She is also slated to visit Saudi Arabia next month to prepare for a prime ministerial visit to that country, while the PM could be visiting Iran, Turkey and Jordan by mid-2016. In a balancing act, the PM is likely to visit both Israel as well as Palestine next year after President Pranab Mukherjee pays a visit to the two countries in October.
Likely visits to OIC member states in the next few months: |
Turkey to attend G20, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt
Visits to OIC countries since June 2014:
UAE, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visits to OIC countries:
Egypt, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Oman, the UAE, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain and Bangladesh
Visitors to India from OIC countries since June 2014:
Foreign Ministers of Iran, Bahrain, Uganda, Suriname and Oman; Presidents of Mozambique, Afghanistan, Guyana, Bangladesh and Emir of Qatar
New Delhi, according to some in BJP, is working towards ensuring ‘grand isolation’ of Pakistan. The PM has already reached out to five Central Asian countries as also those in India’s immediate neighbourhood. In November, the PM was successful in isolating Pakistan within the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation or Saarc on the issue of inter-regional motor vehicle agreement.
Since June 2014, the PM has visited seven of the 57 OIC member states and is scheduled to visit another five in the next one year. Similarly, Swaraj has visited 10 OIC member states. India has also hosted presidents and foreign ministers of 10 OIC member states during this period. In total, India has reached out to 20 different OIC member states in the last 15 months. In October, New Delhi will host heads of state or senior members of the governments of 26 OIC member states as part of the India-Africa Summit.
The BJP leadership believes Pakistan, particularly its military establishment, needs to be tackled firmly on the issue of terrorism and isolated internationally. Such a strategy will gradually weaken Islamabad’s claims on Kashmir, while people of Kashmir will view Pakistan as a failed state. It believes Pakistan's other benefactors, particularly China and the US, are already losing patience with its so-called Deep State.
Lt. General Syed Ata Hasnain (retired), in an opinion piece in the latest issue of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece Organiser, has written how “Pakistan has not yet had the gumption to read the Modi Government correctly." Hasnain, who served as the General Officer Commanding in Jammu and Kashmir, writes that Pakistan should be told Line of Control be quieted and its strategic assets (terror groups) be pulled back if it wants New Delhi to continue talking to Islamabad. "It won't happen in a hurry, at least my military premonition tells me so. Bharat had better be prepared for other option," Hasnain cautions.