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India’s foreign policy taps into a new current in international relations

New Delhi, April 21: India’s three-pronged strategy to tackle international relations by opting for bilateral and even multilateral friendships designed to bring mutual security and economic benefits without compromising world peace, thereby strengthening the country’s position is being confirmed as a major power influencing global issues security and economic improvement and the development of India as a self-reliant nation capable of building its own economic strength as well as defense has so far been to the great advantage of worked in the country.

However, current geopolitical developments highlight the injection of religion into international politics, the advent of a new Cold War between the US-China-Russia axis, and the Joe Biden administration’s sudden preoccupation in the US with ‘measures to countering Islamophobia’ in the environment created by the Israel-Hamas conflict have increased the onus on policymakers here to keep India abreast of foreign relations issues.

To take the Indo-US strategic partnership to a new height to lead the democratic world against the shared threats of terrorism, ‘radicalization’ and dictatorship, and in the Indian context to counter the Sino-Pak axis, which is an alliance represented a Marxist state with a fundamentalist state. regime, have been the two main pillars of Indian foreign policy.

India believed that both the US and this country were on the same side of the fence of the global commons.

On both the military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia and the conflict between Israel and Hamas, India has taken an independent position in favor of a cessation of hostilities and talks on a solution – in one case on the plea that security interests of both parties and in the other case, on the acceptance of a two-state solution in Palestine. India’s position was recognized by the international community as a non-partisan policy and this strengthened the country’s status as a global power whose voice mattered in global issues.

The political divide between the US-led West on the one hand and the China-Russian combination on the other, which was still ideological – although economic rivalry also mattered a lot – is now being influenced by faith-based conflicts that are spreading playing around the world – especially in the Middle East. This forced the US to temper its foreign policy with the domestic urge not to alienate its Muslim population following Israel’s killing of more than 30,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – in the ongoing conflict.

India, for its part, must beware of the fallout from the White House’s new initiative to take steps against ‘Islamophobia’ and be more assertive in countering attempts by international lobbies to pressure this country on the issue of Islam. internal freedom and treatment of minorities.

The Islamic radical forces represented by the Taliban-Al Qaeda axis and ISIS are attacking US interests due to political hostility and are going after Shia Iran, the Alawite regimes of Syria and Iraq and Iranian allies such as Hezbollah operating in the Center East, because of their religious beliefs. hate.

ISIS’s attack on a crowded concert on the outskirts of Moscow on March 22 – barely 20 kilometers from the Kremlin – which killed 143 people and injured more than 300, was blamed on the radical Islamic group, on Russian support for the Syrian president – ​​who belonged to the Alawite sect of Shiism – and also to Vladimir Putin’s Russia’s “atrocities” against Chechen Muslims who are Sunnis.

ISIS – and also the Taliban-Al Qaeda combination – carry with them the historical legacy of the anti-West Wahhabi ‘rebellion’ of the 19th century and the ‘revivalist’ memory of hostility towards Shiites.

Thus, it can be said that ISIS’s faith-based motivation has led to its targeting of Russia, keeping the latter aligned with the US-led West – political opposition in this case also stems directly from religious antagonism.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is a Sunni extremist state, but as a close ally of the US in the Muslim world, it was inclined to accept the UAE’s Abrahamic Accord with Israel.

In the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas that erupted with Hamas’ terror attack on Israel on October 7 last year, Saudi Arabia – like India – emphasized the need for a pause in Israel’s military assault on Gaza to reduce the number minimize civilian casualties. over there.

Iran and its armed ally, Hezbollah, have sided with the Sunni Hamas over their political antipathy towards Israel’s best friend

of the US in today’s geopolitics – would negate everything else.

Israel and Iran happened to be the leading power contenders in the Middle East, and the political rivalry between them guided their responses. Iran is also said to share to some extent concerns about the broader Islamic issue of Israel’s encroachment on the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem – the third holiest center for Muslims in the world.

As for China, the Chinese move to make amends with the Taliban who had reestablished its emirate in Kabul in 2021 – again with Pakistan’s help – in return for the facility granted to China for expanding its B&RI to Afghanistan, the The fury of ISIS who attacked Chinese diplomats in Kabul in December 2022. Of course, ISIS attacks on the Shias in Pakistan and the Hazaras in Afghanistan also continued.

ISIS, which now leads the Islamic radical forces, would not appreciate Pakistan’s attempts to get closer to the US.

An interesting consequence of the Israeli-Hamas conflict is that Israel’s massive military assault in Gaza, in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attack, had sparked a large-scale pro-Muslim demonstration in the US and elsewhere.

Hamas had justified its attack on Israel on the grounds that Israel had imposed its authority on the Al Aqsa Mosque in April 2023 and continued to build settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.

From India’s point of view, as already mentioned, there is concern that pro-Palestinian opinion could encourage anti-Indian lobbies to raise the issue of protecting India’s Muslim minority. Any demonstrations in India in this regard would impact the internal security situation here.

India rightly pursues a foreign policy that best suits a multipolar world order and enables a non-aligned approach that serves the best national interests in both security and economic development. Despite the Biden administration’s concerns over the fallout from the Israel-Hamas conflict, the India-US friendship needs to be driven deeper, for the main reason that China, in a strategic alliance with Pakistan, posed a major threat to India’s national security.

While India strengthened its role in the US-led Quad as there was US-India convergence in threat perception regarding China, it would rightly be concerned about any attempt by the Biden administration to sideline Pakistan USA to keep. at the expense of India’s national interests.

There are new indications that the US and Saudi Arabia – two countries most important to Pakistan – wanted India to pick up the thread of talks with Pakistan.

India once again raised the point that it would be willing to attack terrorists across its borders, within the territory of Pakistan itself, which was a way of reminding Pakistan that it would have to tackle terrorism before India acted on the suggestion could respond. of the Indo-Pak talks.

Of course, India can handle the narratives of ‘majoritarianism’, ‘illiberalism’ and ‘protection of minorities’ on its own, as secularism has been built into this country’s electoral democracy through the universal adult franchise.

India welcomes defense imports from the US, Russia and France, in accordance with its own sovereign requirements, and this should work well as India’s handling of international relations rested on the country’s assertion as a major global power in the field of global peace and economic problems. progress.

A priority for India’s security is that it has the capabilities to deal with both China and Pakistan at its borders, at sea and in the air. At the same time, India must continue to raise its voice against the global threats of terrorism, radicalization and drug trafficking from all multinational platforms.

In short, India’s handling of international relations must take into account a changing geopolitics, taking stock of potential friends and adversaries from time to time.

Intelligence services must be specifically focused on monitoring the operational plans of the two adversaries in our neighborhood – China and Pakistan – to cause internal destabilization here.

National security is incomplete without economic security, which among other things raises the question of how to protect India’s strategic institutions from infiltration and sabotage. The vigilance and security of each of these entities must be strengthened under the leadership of the Intelligence Bureau.

India is already working to protect the country’s lifelines from cyber-attacks and is on the frontline in pushing artificial intelligence for the cause of national security.

Intelligence contacts with established and proven friends must be an important part of our foreign policy.

In informal Indo-US interactions, India should continue to ‘educate’ Americans about the threat of ‘radicalization’, which translates into faith-based terrorism that would pose a danger to the entire democratic world. Maintaining relations with friendly neighbors has taken on new importance in light of China’s determined efforts to expand the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to these countries.

Our approach to international relations reflects India’s political will as a major world power to assert its sovereignty and independence in formulating foreign policy while demonstrating its commitment to global peace and human well-being.

India’s sensitivity to communal conflict can provide guidance to democratic countries on how to quell the ‘radicalization’ that justified the use of violence in the name of religion and gave impetus to proxy wars and cross-border terrorism.

The danger of faith-based conflict could become even greater as Iran had already launched a military offensive against Israel and Yemen’s Houthi movement, which is Shiite in origin, has spoken out in support of Iran.

ISIS’s recent attacks from Moscow to Syria further point to the introduction of religion into international politics in no uncertain terms.

The democratic world order led by the US and India must wake up to this new danger and work together to defuse it.

(IANS)