India launched a communications satellite on Friday for its smaller neighbours to share, part of its efforts to build goodwill in the region and counter Chinese influence. But with a constant barrage of anti-Pakistan rhetoric, and a refusal to come to the SAARC conference in Pakistan last year, there is no reason for Pakistan to embroil itself in any a project when India tries it best to deride Pakistan as much as it can locally and regionally.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have signed up to make use of the satellite. India is trying to push back against China’s expanding involvement in infrastructure building across South Asia, by offering financial and technical aid of its own.

According to the Foreign Office, it was India’s unwillingness to allow other SAARC countries to participate in the development of the satellite that made Pakistan quit the project. This is an Indian project at Indian terms. India wanted to build, launch and operate the satellite all by itself except for registering it with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as a SAARC Satellite. Using the name of SAARC to compete with China is a desperate measure for the rival state trying to cobble together an odd alliance against China. It also is a sign of Indian arrogance, that it thinks that it is a challenger to China at all.

China with its One-Belt One Road project is cutting though Asia to reach European markets. Its creation of what has been “String of Pearls”, Chinese funded seaports across the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Somalia, will expand Chinas role in Asian trade beyond what India can ever fathom. Since 2005, Bangladesh has shifted to China as a major trading partner from India. Bhutan has no diplomatic ties with China, and Nepal is an Indian satellite state, but beyond that, there is no real reason for India to be feared. India’s hope to become a superpower may ultimately rest with US plans in the region, as US had engaged in security deals with India under Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” strategy, to balance China in the region.

While India will remain a second level power in the region due to the rise of China, it begs the question, what is Pakistan’s scope for more technological and security cooperation with South Asian countries? Even while rejecting the satellite, India, at least on the face of it, was able to offer something to the region. While we have offered our expertise to the Saudi-led anti-terror coalition, is military capability all we have to offer? India may well be a second level power in the region, but Pakistan must not remain a third level dependent state.