The foremost reason why India has not been able to make its presence felt at the international forums of diplomacy is because our diplomats seem to be out of touch with reality and it becomes evident on evaluating the narrow foreign policy which we have pursued over the years. We have spent most of our time, energy and resources on a country which hardly has any say in matters of international importance.
Yes, you’re right, I am talking of Pakistan. Had Pakistan been bereft of its internal disturbances, the international community would have treated it as just another Islamic Republic with a fundamentally flawed democracy. Most of our foreign policy initiatives have been directed at Pakistan and they have yielded no results at all. The other major Indian contribution to the world of international affairs was the Non Aligned Movement, a Nasser-Nehru brainchild, but it seems to have turned into a Non-Commital-Movement since the non aligned countries have chosen to be modern day Nero’s as they have looked the other side each and every time when the world was burning and required them to take a stand. SAARC happens to have had a total loss of direction and has become plainly a photo-op event held every year where leaders go only to decide when and where they’ll be meeting next year.
It’s time we had a substantial change in our foreign policy. South Asia is going to play a very critical role in the decades to come. In our immediate neighbourhood, we have two growing giants, namely, China and Indonesia. Indian interests would be better served if we would set our sights towards having a more proactive relationship with the two countries. The reason why I choose China and Indonesia over Pakistan is because both these countries are politically in a far more stable position than Pakistan. The polity of the two nations is less fragile and not as irrational as in Pakistan. Economically, both China and Indonesia have piloted financial miracles. While China has registered a growth rate of 9.2%, Indonesia has continued to grow annually at a decent pace of 6.2% with a GDP of $ 1 Trillion.
The third reason is the religious pluralism which exists in these two countries in a far greater quantity than in Pakistan. Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world and also has a good share of Protestants who happen to be well over 6% of the total population. Catholics and Hindus are next big minorities in Indonesia with a total share of approximately 4.6%. China’s cultural diversity is also worth a watch. With over 60% population being atheists, it houses the highest number of Atheists in the world. Taoism and Buddhism happen to be the biggest Theism’s in the country with a population share of 30%. Christians and Muslims are significant minorities with a population of 4% and 2%, respectively. The statistics are indicative of the fact that both these countries are religiously more tolerant than Pakistan where consistent persecution of Christians, Hindus and even Muslim minorities like Shias and Ahmaddiyas has become a day to day affair. Safety and security are pre-requisites to having a stable relationship. The prospects which China and Indonesia have on offer for India are far more economically prosperous and culturally peaceful than the ones offered by Pakistan. John F Kennedy, the youngest elected President of the United States, remarked, ‘Domestic Policy can defeat us, foreign policy can kill us.’ Keeping this in mind we should move towards forging better relations with China and Indonesia. This doesn’t mean ignoring Pakistan or going to war with Pakistan with the intention of obliterating the nation. It simply means that Pakistan should rank low on our priority list since they are more of a liability rather than an asset. A sound relationship with Pakistan is good for India’s future but Pakistan is not the country to concentrate on if we intend to take forward the dreams of becoming a superpower.