New Delhi: India is facing a grave national emergency on its frontiers with China and Pakistan. These emergencies will not disappear like the morning mist and India must have to recognize their salience and move strategically and tactically to counter them. The old methods have run their course. Pakistani terrorism cannot be countered with peace dialogues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his illustrious predecessors in office have tried and failed in those efforts. And quite unprecedentedly, China has come out in open support of Pakistan and Pakistani terrorism. The grave national emergency confronting India must be accepted fairly and squarely by all shades of Indian public opinion. The Prime Minister needs the support of the Opposition in this hour. The country will not forget or forgive those who do low politics in the present.

Indian diplomats of the old school insist the primary problem is with Pakistan and inserting China into the equation would make it difficult to handle. India did not create the problem in the first place. Secondly, Pakistan does not have the staying power for a long confrontation with India. Terrorism under a nuclear overhang also has limitations. The surgical strikes have exposed those limitations. Pakistan perseveres against India because it has received China’s support. Somewhere in this relationship of evil between Pakistan and China, the interests of China have overtaken those of Pakistan. It is this significant and unprecedented transition that has made Pakistan China’s cat’s paw. To counter and contain Pakistan, China has to be countered and contained. You treat cancer locally and at source. Parts of the Indian diplomatic establishment don’t get this.

China’s problem is not just India but Narendra Modi’s India. China has panicked that India is unstoppable on the course to becoming a Great Power under Modi. Modi would be the first to admit that there were doughty Prime Ministers prior to him who propelled the country towards this goal. The trend began with Indira Gandhi and continued at a faster pace under P. V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee. China fears that Modi will place India in an indomitable position. Its rivalry with India, therefore, is out in the open. And it will use any and all means to stop India. India cannot shut its eyes to China while countering Pakistan. That luxury is not available. Pakistan and China have thrust themselves on two fronts. They have to be fought. There is no turning back.

The strategy and tactics to counter two adversaries on two fronts have to await analyses and discussions on another occasion, and perhaps never publicly. What needs immediate emphasis is that the treat facing India from Pakistan and China is current and growing. This is much the worst time for divisive politics. Public opinion is solidly behind the government. The Opposition, putting aside its differences, should rally together too. There is time for dissent and there is the hour when national consolidation becomes imperative. Such an hour is upon us.

India has to show the same seriousness to countering China and Pakistan as they have displayed to ground India’s rise. Finding Pakistan isolated in the Subcontinent, China has set out to bribe India’s neighbours to shift allegiances. There is no reason to be horrified. This is an old Chinese practise. When Cambodia was about to leave its orbit, it bribed its key leaders and opened doors to pleasures in China. Modi’s diplomacy in the neighbourhood has been amazing. The diplomatic establishment, however, has some catching up to do. It cannot let down India and the Prime Minister when the ruthless poacher is abroad.

There are also standard precautions to take as India exercises the Baluchistan option. The success of the option is not as farfetched as it once seemed although it is by no means a cakewalk. China and Pakistan will infiltrate the Baluchistan independence movement with greater urgency and vigour than before. Their aim would be to contaminate the movement in India and to receive actionable intelligence. After 1971, India has got rusty in cloak and dagger. The old skills have to be revived and perfected. A. B. Mohapatra, an incisive Indian strategist, suggests the establishment of a dedicated Baluchistan department in line with earlier practices. A situation of no comebacks has reached with Pakistan and China.

However you look, the old ways lead nowhere. China cannot permit Modi’s India to succeed. The pace he has provided to India’s Great Power thrust threatens China’s position in Asia in the near future. It is a do-or-die battle for China and Pakistan against India. India has to defend itself.