China’s most ambitious economic and foreign policy projects, the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, also referred to as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, has been cause for Indian anxiety for some time now.

India sees China’s effort to build roads and bridges as instruments of Beijing’s intention to build influence in its neighbourhood. India’s apprehension is that OBOR and CPEC will benefit Pakistan is a view of trade and commerce so myopic, it is as if they are stuck in colonial times with their economic policy. Thus, on May 13, India did not send an official delegation to attend the “Belt and Road Forum” in Beijing and instead criticised China’s global initiative, warning of an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries involved. Here in Pakistan, we can only view this positively. If India wants to be isolated from a grand Asian project, so be it.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay has said India could not accept a project that compromised its sovereignty - an oxymoronic statement considering India wants to do exactly what China is doing, except it does not have the resources or capacity to take on a global trade project. By this warped India logic, its relationship with Iran and Afghanistan can similarly be seen as a compromise of Iranian or Afghan sovereignty, except in the Indian mind, it is only India that deserves to build and grow, other states should be beholden to only it.

India’s ire emanates from the CPEC passing though Kashmir. Pakistan has never treated the people of Azad Kashmir with as much repression and disdain as India has its Kashmiri population. To cheat Kashmir of a project that will benefit the rest of Pakistan would be petty. If India had provided the people in Indian Held Kashmir (IKH) with even a semblance of rights and control over their political development, it would not have to sling mud at China and Pakistan to cover up its own shortcomings.

In the long run, when it comes to competing with China, India is an irrelevant power. The OBOR project is so vast in its scope, that it will link most Asian countries to China. Even with the risk of debt burdens, and dependency on China, small states have no real choice but to play by Chines rules, as they once did under American rules. This is the nature of power in international relations, that weaker states either comply and find their footing in the power hierarchy, or follow their own dogmas and get left behind. India is not a regional superpower, and antagonising China will never pay off.