As China works on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) close to India’s borders and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), New Delhi will sign its first security cooperation agreement with Beijing on October 22. The pact, which focuses on terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, intelligence sharing and disaster management, will be signed between Zhao Kezhi, China’s Minister of Public Security, and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, officials said.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is also likely to hold talks with Zhao before the two countries sign the agreement, officials said, adding that the issue of listing Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar on the UN’s sanctions list may also be taken up. Twice, China has blocked India’s efforts to include Azhar in the list. New Delhi is hopeful that using the security cooperation agreement, India will be able to obtain some information regarding the JeM chief. The agreement between the two countries,
according to officials, may also help New Delhi zero in on top ULFA leader Paresh Baruah who is believed to be in hiding in the India-China-Myanmar trijunction. India will also raise the China practice of issuing stapled visas to people of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Officials said the cooperation agreement has been in the works since the 2015 visit of Rajnath Singh to Beijing. However, China turned down India’s proposal to sign an “umbrella” agreement. It wanted a redraft, suggesting sector-wise multiple agreements instead of an “umbrella” agreement.
“Post Wuhan where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met early this year, issues of bilateral security cooperation were again discussed and Beijing signalled its readiness to sign the agreement,” a senior official in the Home Ministry said.
The official, however, clarified that the security cooperation agreement does not deal with the boundary dispute between India and China.
“The pact tries to address issues of smuggling, infiltration, narcotics and terrorism, using China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as it also passes through through PoK, not recognised by India,” the official clarified, adding that the issues on BRI were conveyed to a Chinese delegation which met Indian officials on August 28 to discuss details of the proposed pact.
Another area of cooperation between the two countries was to check the spread of the Islamic State (IS). Uyghur youth from China’s Xinjiang province have reportedly travelled to Iraq and Syria, while something similar was detected in states of southern India.
Besides terrorism, India is keen to set up a mechanism for cooperation on tackling transnational crimes, cyber crime and a 24×7 hotline to exchange information. India also hopes the security operation agreement will pave the way for signing of an extradition treaty with China.