Bhutan’s position

Two diplomatic moves by the Bhutan government in the last two weeks, in first condemning the Uri attack and then recently pulling out from the SAARC summit was a show of both solidarity and support to our traditional ally, India.

At the same time the two diplomatic moves are quite unconventional for Bhutan, and so New Delhi must have an appreciation for the extra mile that Bhutan has gone this time especially in pulling out of the SAARC summit.

This is more so because unlike Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Bhutan has not suffered in any way from Pakistan affiliated or sponsored terrorism. Traditionally Bhutan’s friendship with India has been more in relevance to its ‘eastern front’ and so this is another divergence.

New Delhi must also remember that Bhutan, while doing this, risks being called names by Pakistan and its friends since as pointed above we have no relevance or any relation to Pakistan.

However, given the level of official and public sentiments in India and the close nature of our ties, Bhutan opted to support India diplomatically.

With all of the above it is hoped that there is an even greater understanding and appreciation of Bhutan’s all weather friendship with India.

In this context it is hoped that matters and projects relating to Bhutan be it hydropower or other issues do not stagnate or back track in the desks of bureaucrats and committees but are cleared faster.

By now the hyper-nationalists in Bhutan must be fuming at their tops with some even questioning Bhutan’s moves.

In this regard firstly, India does have a strong case on cross border terrorism supported by various elements in Pakistan with the vast majority of victims being scores of innocent Indian civilians. Except for a handful of close allies, Pakistan has come under mounting international diplomatic pressure due to activities from its soil having an impact on Afghanistan, India and even Bangladesh.

Secondly at a time when even the superpowers of the world pursue diplomacy to ruthlessly secure their supreme national interests, Bhutan cannot afford to play it any differently.

In short there will be numerous opportunities presented to Bhutan to play a Nepal but Bhutan has always been far too nimble and practical. This very practical attitude of Bhutan is what enabled a small Himalayan state to deal with the British, Chinese and Indians at different stages and each time come out stronger and more prosperous. Anybody heard of stooping to conquer.

‘Diplomacy, is the art of letting somebody else have your way’.-

David Frost


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