Too much is at stake for all concerned. This could become a yet another protracted war.
On 21st October, we broke the story that the Hamas attack in Israel had as one of its targets, the prestigious IMEEC project floated at the recently held G20 Summit in New Delhi. That the G20 outcome was impacting those not desirous of India’s success! The Nijjar killing in Canada, too, had its origin in the same principle. Disrupt unity in this emerging alignment, as it could put the nail in the coffin of the BRI initiative which had found its own detractors. It had flawed economies in the region, made small nations bankrupt with unviable projects. Both these perspectives had been put forward by our columnist Iqbal Chand Malhotra, at a time when the media was focusing elsewhere; the focus was on the fallout of Prime Minister Trudeau’s mis-guided missiles, not on why he was a prisoner to his domestic compulsions.
Canada and India have been close friends with shared ties, marred by the ‘K’ factor, which unfortunately has continued to give a different colour to our present-day relationship. This continues. Reports are coming out of Canada that the so-called friends of Khalistan are now planning referendums in key cities on whether the Sikhs in Canada want an independent nation. They can, but best they should settle down in any other country, except within India! There is zero traction for the idea, today, in any part of India, Punjab included. These efforts must be stopped, it remains the responsibility of any friendly country. Between India and Canada, there is much at stake.
Friends of recent alignments, like the Quad and I2U2 and IMEEC, and those wishing the continuing success of the G20/G21 movement must get Canada to understand. Trudeau’s government must act, like what his political rival from the opposition has promised, when voted to power.
The subsequent Hamas attack and the war that rages in the Gaza region was a well-conceived action, a single act that had multiple targets. As the story has unfolded, it is clear nothing in politics and diplomacy is ever simple.
How will this go, is anybody’s guess. No saying how long will it continue, there are silent players and behind the scenes players, and some obvious ones. Till these cards open, it would be anybody’s guess. Even the chief protagonists have been left guessing.
For India, what does this mean? The IMEEC project is presently put on the back burner, for sure. And so is the success of the recent G20 summit. What about the war between Russia and Ukraine? That too has lost its relevance for the time being. More pressing issues have surfaced, out of nowhere.
India condemns terror in all its manifestation, most of all state guided. It is also saying we will be guided by keeping all our hands on deck. It also says that ‘war is not an option’ in current times. It also calls and expects nations to respect the territorial integrity of fellow countries.
It is also not a time for chest thumping of any kind. It is best to do our job diligently and stay united. We are not that invincible, we have our vulnerable touch points, we must remain guarded at all times, on all fronts. We must continue our tight rope walk. The Palestine Cause has been our close concern for decades. We have moved closer to Israel in recent years, given our pronounced multipolar diplomacy. It may not always appear that we are neutral, but that is the price of tight rope walking. Keeping our balance is vital in volatile times like these.
What next? Voices are appearing for a solution along the lines of a two-nation state! But this would take some time; meanwhile, destruction reigns, civilian casualties mount, almost deafening human sensibility. Images of women and children falling to bombs and mortar, reports of hospitals turning into military camps, shortage of food and crippling life conditions. These warrant immediate cessation, with a shared understanding on the next steps forward. Untold misery on lives in the Gaza region and around are beyond human dignity and comprehension. No wonder, protests are mounting globally.
Going back into history can be everything, tracing the origins of this hostile environment for decades. It can also mean very little, for today’s generation, and for peace tomorrow. Palestinians have been long time friends of India, always enjoyed our unstinted support and understanding. Israel and India share strategic interests, we also have a long history of togetherness with the Jewish community.
What inspired Hamas to launch this sudden offensive? What was behind the timing? How much of the counter attack is justified? Yes, there was an unprincipled Hamas attack, to begin with. What will it take Israel to say we have had enough of a revenge? With US forces doubling down in the region, both men and guns, ships and aircrafts, we have a most volatile situation on hand. The world waits, with bated breath.