GOOD SENSE PREVAILED

While most of the world was occupied in learning the final outcome of a conflict between North Korea and the United States, another serious conflict was taking place in the Himalayas. Armies of China and India backed by their arsenal of nuclear weapons stood eye ball to eye ball at the Doklam plateau near Bhutan. Between them live a third of humanity. Therefore, a conflict between these two neighbors posed a big problem for the entire world. Nobody was more aware of this issue than the parties themselves. Even if elements within their border tried to incite the situation the decision makers of China and India tried to play the whole thing down. Diplomats from both sides interpreted the Doklam confrontation as a disagreement rather than a conflict.

Neither China nor India is considered "a developed country". But they are matured nations. Each is trying to catch up with the rest of the world. The economies of both countries are growing at almost an identical rate. Because of historical reasons China has certain advantages over India. China's place in the Security Council gives it a dominant role. Given the size of India's population and economy, all the powers except China feel that India should be included in the Council. It has not happened yet. And it will not happen until China gives its consent. Therefore, any conflict with China is not in India's best interest; at least now.

China also wants to avoid a conflict with India. Given all the unrest it has within its own border involving Muslims in Uighar, supporters of a democratic movement in University campuses, farmers in rural areas opposing highhandedness of local officials and Tibetans in Tibet, it does not want to impose a war on its citizens. A war costs money and lives. For its own progress China also needs India's help. For example, it desperately tries to woo India into its Asian Bank effort. It wants India to participate in its "one belt, one road" slogan. Both are members of the BRICS nations; besides China and India other members are Russia, South Africa and Brazil. Helping each other in the economic development is the cherished goal of these nations.

Keeping in mind that both countries belong to the same club India and China have to be civil toward each other. However, China will hold the annual session of its Parliament in October. In order to show that it is strong and powerful the Government of Xi Jing Pin has to take a certain aggressive stand. Acquisition looks good in this regard. Challenging India sells well in national politics. And all politics is local. On the other hand Narendra Modi's BJP Government in India could not afford to look weak. Given its nationalistic chest thumping it could not back away from China. Hence a stalemate. When Indian soldiers stopped Chinese soldiers from building a road, many in China were angry. They reminded India that in a fight it could lose like in 1962. "It is a different India now" - said the Indians. Finally, each side backed away from its stated position.

To everyone's relief two matured countries acted maturely. Knowing full well what is at stake they made an adjustment with each other. The Chinese side stopped its road building and Indian soldiers went back to their barracks. Indian soldiers emptied the area first and then the Chinese soldiers followed. By the time the BRICS leaders meet in Beijing on the weekend, the leaders of India and China could enjoy the full partnership of goodwill. Plenty of thorny issues exist between the two countries. But the two governments are committed to bettering the lives of their people rather than fighting to destroy each other. One just wishes the leaders of Pakistan could look at the India-China relationship a bit objectively. If China and India can come to terms in spite of conflicts in so many areas between them, then why not Pakistan and India?


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