Farid Ullah Khan
India’s decision to reject the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution and abstention from voting on the UNHCR resolution against Russia had resulted in considerable worldwide criticism and isolation for India when it was attempting to become a permanent member of the UNSC.
Following Russia’s actions against Ukraine, the UN Human Rights Council wants to form an independent international commission of inquiry. In this regard, on March 2, UN General Assembly voted to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abstention by 35 countries was perceived as an expression of support for the Russian invasion by the West. Abstaining countries have received a barrage of criticism.
India: The Focus of Western Criticism
However, regarding the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) waiver on the S-400 contract, agreements with the Quad Alliance, consensus with the US/West to confront China in the Indo-Pacific, and reliance on Russian military hardware, the focus of western media criticism remained on India.
Even US President Biden, replying to a question on India’s support for the US against Russia during a press conference before the UNSC vote, stated that “Washington is still in unresolved consultations with India.”
India’s Significance for the US
It is evident from the regional and international history that the Indian establishment has persuaded the United States and its allies that India is not just a counterweight to China but also a reliable strategic partner in the global arena. However, when the US needed India the most, India took a position that harmed US interests.
In addition, the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense system by India has further enraged Washington, putting it at risk of US sanctions under a 2017 bill aimed at discouraging countries from purchasing Russian military hardware.
India’s duplicity has now been well judged by the United States, realizing that India, on one side, assures it of support against China and, on the other hand, is expanding its defense connections with Russia.
This dual standard of policy on the part of India is now interpreted in Washington in the right direction that India is no more a trustworthy ally. One such example is ignoring India in the military alliance ‘AUKUS’ between Washington, Canberra, and London.
In the recent past, the world has witnessed how the EU Disinfo lab exposed India for its dirty tactics of spreading fake news and propaganda through counterfeit websites and reports across the globe.
Since then, the US administration has also been more cautious about its relationship with India. However, the Indian lobby is still active in the United States to claim to be the Asian tiger and a most reliable ally of the US in the region.
Repercussions for India
It is high time for the US and Western countries to think that any country that lacks universal fairness, the rule of law, justice for all, and equal opportunity for all citizens has a widening rich-poor divide, religious fault lines, dictatorial practices.
Such a country is vulnerable to economic collapse and cannot become a global economic powerhouse. Moreover, this financial collapse will also put Western investments at risk.
Secondly, it is a fact that the Indian military is no match when it comes to China. Following India’s devastating defeats in the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict and the 2020 Doklam border standoff, the rusty Indian army would not dare to face the modern Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Hence it would not risk a conflict with China on behalf of the United States.
Thirdly, it is pertinent to mention here that although 60% of New Delhi’s arsenal is still of Soviet or Russian origin, Moscow no longer backs New Delhi on various foreign policy and security concerns.
Russia has recently developed a close relationship with China and has made overtures to Pakistan. The arms deals are now entirely commercial, with New Delhi free to buy weapons on the open market in the future.
Despite India’s abstention from voting against Russia, the Russian Embassy’s criticism of Indian media coverage of Ukraine, describing it as “biased and misleading,” underlines Russia’s displeasure with India’s duplicity.
Fourthly, when faced with difficult decisions on the international stage, India’s diplomatic approach of dodging may have reached its limit. The United States and other partners may not be willing to give India a pass permanently and overlook its reaction to the current crisis.
Fifthly, in India, several sane voices are also against the country’s military reliance on Russia and the Modi-led government’s reaction to the crisis pushing the country into an embarrassing situation on regional and international fronts.
Finally, keeping in view all the said facts, it can easily be assessed that India would also lose Western support. Especially United States’ backing to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, realizing that they are betting on the wrong horse (India).
*The writer is an independent analyst based in Islamabad.
*The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily represent those of the institutions.