By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces
Britain’s top diplomat Simon McDonald, was in Delhi this week for Consultations with our Videsh Mantralaya. That UK is a spent force was clear from the fact, that of all things, Simon ji spoke of the “concessions” they needed to give in order to ensure Masood Azhar’s designation at the UN Security Council, and urged India to give Pakistan more time and space to act on terror groups.
What concessions? To whom ? For what? UK and others should know that India is now fed up and will act on its own, if no one does. There will be no more concessions given to Pakistan on any thing including sports.
UK will have to keep its fingered crossed for even the World Cricket Cup. India may just decide not to play against Pakistan and that will surely be the end of Cricket as we know it today unless UK itself expels the Pak cricketers from its soil. ….oh Lords help( pun fully intended).
UK’s constant burping about tensions between India and Pakistan after February’s Pulwama terror attack, has irked India too much. Seeing India’s indifference towards Britain, U.K. foreign office had to request for a visit for consultations, for the first time in many years. Even for this request to be accepted there was a long delay and again there was no fixed agenda.
The very fact that Simon said “ The key point for me was that we had an extremely constructive set of discussions, we talked about the full range of issues, and found widespread agreement and came up with a programme of things we can do together”, shows that there were very few agreements.
One of the major issue is the MoU on return of “illegal migrants”, something both sides announced in January 2018, but haven’t yet cleared? This has become an issue between India and the U.K. India generates the second largest number of visitors to the U.K., more than half a million last year and UK has made a habit of trying to make an earning by increasing Visa Fees quite often.
Compared to the progress made in India- Russia, India – Israel, India- France, India- Vietnam, India-USA and India – China relations in the last few years, the relationship with the U.K. has lagged far behind. Britain can no more bank on the earlier historical relationship, they were just lucky that they moved out with goodwill still intact instead of being kicked out like the Portuguese. The relationship of today must be based on the basis of total equality in all spheres of activities.
The U.K. leaving the European Union has created an uncertainty of its own. It will be a great help if in the similar manner, UK exits from the Chagos Archipelago too. Its relationship with India will then be much better. Emphasizing on UK’s role in the Indian Ocean Region and the Indo Pacific, it does not help the matter when Simon states that “ the biggest military base in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, is a British-American base. We have a historic role and have defined ourselves as a global power for 200 years. Freedom of navigation is very important to us and we act to ensure sea routes remain free. With India we foresee joint ventures, joint training, joint missions [in the Indo-Pacific] as we all with U.N. missions. “
UK can keep claiming credit for designation of Masood Azhar as an International terrorist. However there has been a big let down over the wording of the designation. The original proposal from the U.S., U.K. and France included a reference to the Pulwama attacks and to terror attacks in Kashmir carried out by Masood Azhar as leader of the JeM, but the final listing did not mention them.
Given that India is the biggest victim of his terrorism. It is obvious that some one has been playing the Great Game. They forget that India too is now fully capable of playing this game and turn the tables. We too are aware about the places where Kashmiri Separatists and Khalistani separatists are getting the Oxygen in the name of Freedom of Speech. Such nonsense will not be tolerated by India but in fact reciprocated with interest at the right time . Therefore it will be in the interest of UK that it stops asking India to go slow on Pakistan or give it more time. Either UK ensures that Pakistan behaves or India will ensure that.
The Indian government has officially complained about the presence of Khalistani separatist groups in the U.K., especially ahead of a so-called referendum in 2020. U.K. keeps claiming that it is a country of law, and one of those laws is around freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
Though it forgets that even other countries also run based on law only . So they can either have better relations with India or they can have their Khalistanis and the Kashmiris and their laws as fig leaf. India has its laws on these and act accordingly. After all, we have nothing against Argentina and their claim on Malvinas and we will surely back Seychelles on the issue of vacating Chagos Archipelago .
Also there are issues of economic fugitives from India like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. Mr Mallya and such others must be deported fastest. Excuse regarding the British judicial system being independent is not going to be of much help. When a Britisher is in Indian jail then the Indian judicial system ( same as left by the King/ Queen) gets questioned .
Another issue, which has seen sensitivities in India, is the issue of a British apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. This year marks 100 years since it happened in India, the British government has again come short of an apology.
However, the fundamental truth is that to have a meaningful independent relationship with India, the UK has to stop being a blind camp follower of USA in every thing . With Iran there is specifically the issue of finding alternate financial systems that would nullify U.S. sanctions against Iran after it walked out of the JCPOA. Iran, is an important country with good relationship India and our relationship goes back thousands of years .
Finally coming to the defence partnership, things can improve with more mutual cooperation. However now UK should not even dream of short charging India, like it did earlier in case of supplying Submarines and the engines for Marut Fighters .
Trying to sell the aircraft carrier design to India will require much more effort and better business offer than before. BAE systems and TATA have opened a factory in Hyderabad.
BAE is UKs biggest defence contractor, and they are working on a closer defence partnership. Even then it is just peanuts.