India is urging close allies and key strategic partners across continents to scale back commercial activities and investments in Pakistan in the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack, saying it often diverts such funds to finance cross-border terror activities.
The Narendra Modi government is trying to convince other countries about the necessity to put brakes on their investments in Pakistan, mounting coercive diplomacy to force Islamabad to stop funding terror groups, people familiar with the development said. This message was delivered to Delhi-based envoys as well as those in other capitals, they said.
India has also urged foreign envoys and strategic partners to issue stronger statements naming and shaming Pakistan and Pak-sponsored terror groups, including Jaish-e-Mohd, sources said.
Delhi has been for decades urging the US to scale back its financial support to Pakistan as the Pakistan army often allegedly misused US funds for funding cross-border terror activities against India, besides using arms supplied by the US for counter-terror operations against India.
The diplomatic push, sources said, is aimed at increasing costs on Pakistan which is alleged to use terror as a state policy. Besides the foreign secretary, all the three other secretaries in the external affairs ministry have engaged with countries under their jurisdiction to push for action against Islamabad.
India itself has already withdrawn the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan.
The diplomatic outreach has borne initial fruits with many countries voicing support to India and its fight against terror. Besides the national security advisor of the US, Russian NSA Nikolai Patrushev is understood to have send a message to his Indian counterpart.
A Saudi business delegation accompanying Crown Prince Mohd Bin Salman to Pakistan has scaled down its participation in an investment summit, sources said. The Crown Prince has himself cut short his visit to Islamabad ahead of his India trip as Saudi Arabia seeks to balance its ties between strategic partner and market economy India vis-à-vis old ally Pakistan.
Saudi support is critical to India’s coercive diplomacy against Islamabad as Riyadh remains a key investor in Pakistan.
The UAE, another close strategic partner of India, is also an investor in Pakistan. So has been Turkey for decades. Japan and some European nations also have some investments in Pakistan.
However, China by far remains biggest the investor and lender to Pakistan and its investments in recent years have been devoted for the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor.
India has received strong support from Iran which was targeted by a Pakistan-based terror group a day ahead of the Pulwama attack. The powerful Revolutionary Guards in Iran has threatened action against Pakistani security forces for Wednesday’s suicide bombing in Sistan-Baluchistan province, echoing India’s position on Pakistan state support for cross-border terror.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj met Iran’s deputy foreign minister in Tehran on her way to Bulgaria, and the two explored expanding counter-terror partnership in the region.
According to diplomatic sources, Pakistan’s tactic behind Pulwama attack appears to have been premised on the fact that some key nations are currently courting Islamabad as part of their Afghan policy and, therefore, may not coerce the Imran Khan government if any cross border attack is orchestrated at this juncture.
The timing of the attack may also have been coincided with the Saudi crown prince’s visit to the region to up the ante on Kashmir and upcoming Belt and Road Initiative Summit in China, they said. Pakistan hosts BRI’s flagship project – CPEC and therefore hopes to get unstinted support from all weather ally Beijing.
However, Islamabad may have miscalculated in judging international reaction with several of these countries having huge stakes in India, diplomatic sources said.