Even though the Chinese Belt and Road summit successfully took place in Beijing, even with India’s absence, the media in New Delhi published scores of stories and editorials passing scathing remarks on Pakistan, CPEC and the Belt and Road initiative.
The wide media coverage of CPEC in the Indian media also exposed the obsession that exists over Pakistan and Pak China ties in New Delhi.
India boycotts China’s B&R meet, mounts diplomatic pressure against CPEC, wrote Indian Express. The story argued that India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion CPEC, which passes through PoK.
India Times published its story titled, As China opens its One Belt One Road summit, anti-CPEC protests erupt in PoK, India Times. Rather than focusing on any policy issues or suggestions, its focus was merely on Pakistan’s internal affairs. The story argued: “Various students and political organisations including Karakoram Students Organisation, Balawaristan National Students Organisation, Gilgit Baltistan United Movement and Balawaristan National Front have been protesting against OBOR in Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Ghizer”.
‘Chinese Imperialism’: CPEC faces stiff opposition from protesters in Gilgit, was another story headlined in Times Now. The story also focused on Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan, stating, “Following a no-show by India’s representatives at the opening ceremony of China’s Belt and Road Forum (BRF), protests erupted in Gilgit-Baltistan against the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project under the Belt and Road initiative.”
The Times of India, in its story titled CPEC concerns keep India away from China’s Belt and Road summit, was more on cautionary lines. It said: “Staying away from the meet may “isolate” India in the region as all countries in South Asia – barring Bhutan which doesn’t have diplomatic relations with China – were participating, a top Chinese official in New Delhi had said last week. He had warned that New Delhi’s absence “will not be constructive” for bilateral ties”
The Business standard was also voicing similar concerns in its story Not just CPEC, China’s new Silk Road too should have India worried.
Zee News, in its story titled, India skips Belt and Road Summit; Pakistan, China firm on CPEC, argued that even with the Boycott, India still holds interest in the China Myanmar Bangladesh route of the project.
Taking a harsher line the Times of India published its editorial titled Forget India: Beijing should get Islamabad to curb jihadis in order to save CPEC and OBOR,. It said “For all those reasons it is entirely in Beijing’s interest to lean on Pakistan to subdue terror groups operating from its territory and drop its irredentist objectives in Kashmir”.
Such an extensive coverage given to OBOR and CPEC in the Indian media suggests that even with the apparent boycott on the Belt and Road summit, policy makers in New Delhi might consider joining the initiative in future