. India’s former foreign secretary, Shyam Saran, has revealed that India’s disputes with Pakistan (Kashmir, Sir Creek, Kargil) are not intractable in nature. But, they could not be resolved because of lack of political will. Saran says his voice was a voice in the wilderness (How India sees the World).
India Pak disputes: Besides Kashmir, there are Sir Creek and Siachen Glacier issues. These issues were almost resolved, but Indian politicians left them in limbo at the last minute.
Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek: India’s former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, in his book How India Sees the World (pp. 88-93) makes startling revelations about how this issue eluded solution at last minute.. India itself created the Siachen problem. Saran reminisces, in the 1970s, US maps began to show 23000 kilometers of Siachen area under Pakistan’s control. Thereupon, `Indian forces were sent to occupy the glacier in a pre-emptive strike, named Operation Meghdoot. Pakistani attempts to dislodge them did not succeed. But they did manage to occupy and fortify the lower reaches’.
He recalls how Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek agreements could not fructify for lack of political will or foot-dragging. He says ‘NN Vohra, who was the defence secretary at the time, confirmed in a newspaper interview that an agreement on Siachen had been reached. At the last moment, however, a political decision was taken by the Narasimha Rao government to defer its signing to the next round of talks scheduled for January the following year. But, this did not happen…My defence of the deal became a voice in the wilderness’.
Similarly, demarcation of Sir Creek maritime boundary was unnecessarily delayed. Saran tells ` if we accepted the Pakistani alignment, with the east bank of the creek as the boundary, then Pakistan would get only 40 per cent of the triangle. If our alignment according to the Thalweg principle was accepted, Pakistan would get 60 per cent. There was a keen interest in Pakistan to follow this approach but we were unable to explore this further when the Siachen deal fell through. Pakistan was no longer interested in a stand-alone Sir Creek agreement’ (Thalweg principle places the dividing line mid-channel in the river).
Kashmir dispute: Kashmir issue has remained unresolved since the creation of two independent states, India and Pakistan, in 1947. This issue led to wars between the two countries in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999, besides a quasi-war or military stand-off (operation parakaram) in year 2001-02. Kashmir is considered a dangerous flashpoint as both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers.
In his memoirs In the line of fire (pp.302-303), president Musharraf has proposed a personal solution of the Kashmir issue. This solution, in essence, envisions self-rule in demilitarised regions of Kashmir under a joint-management mechanism. The solution pre-supposes reciprocal flexibility.
The out-of-box Musharraf Kashmir solution is in fact a regurgitation of Mehta’s proposals. He understood that plebiscite was the real solution. But, India was not willing to talk about it. So, he says, before seeking a solution, `requirements prelusive to a solution’ should be met. He presented his ideas in his article, ‘Resolving Kashmir in the International Context of the 1990s’ (Hindustan Times editor Verghese also gave similar autonomy-inclined proposals). Some points of Mehta’s quasi-solution are: (a) Conversion of the LoC into “a soft border permitting free movement and facilitating free exchanges…” (b) Immediate demilitarisation of the LoC to a depth of five to 10 miles with agreed methods of verifying compliance. (c) Pending final settlement, there must be no continuing insistence by Pakistan “on internationalisation, and for the implementation of a parallel or statewide plebiscite to be imposed under the peacekeeping auspices of the United Nations”. (d) Final settlement of the dispute between India and Pakistan can be suspended (kept in a ‘cold freeze’) for an agreed period. (e) Conducting parallel democratic elections in both Pakistani and Indian sectors of Kashmir. (f) Restoration of an autonomous Kashmiriyat. (g) Pacification of the valley until a political solution is reached. Voracious readers may refer for detail to Robert G. Wirsing’s book India, Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute (1994, St Martin’s Press).
Sans sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or, perhaps divine intervention.
India annexes parts of Nepal: India considers Nepal as part of Bharatvarsha kingdom. It has already occupied nearly one-third of Nepal.
As of 2016, the Modi government successfully managed to force the Nepalese government to distribute Nepalese citizenship to five million Indian immigrants in violation of the UN charter. To coerce Nepal, India blockaded fuel supply to Nepal for nearly 157 days just after the earthquake. It is likely that within the next 70 years or so, Nepal will be completely filled with Bihari people. During the last seven decades, India annexed not only Nepal’s Kalapani in 1962 (protested in cartographic enactment by Nepalese parliament) but also territories like Kashmir in 1950, Southern Tibet in 1950, Goa in 1962, the Kingdom of Sikkim in 1975. Besides, it grabbed Travancore, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Junagadh, Ladakh, Naga Land, Sikkim,. West Bengal from Bangladesh, and some areas of Myanmar
India’s self-contradictory stand on Ladakh crisis: One has to be a Daniel to make head or tail of India’s verbal rigmarole about Ladakh crisis. A cursory look at the Indian press and views aired on channels reflects that China has altered the status quo ante. And, it wants India to agree to the 1959 LAC that is disadvantageous to India. It has been escalating its buildup along the Line of Actual Control and has devoured chunks of Indian Territory. In retaliation, India through Operation Leopard pre-empted the aggressive Chinese from occupying several heights at Depsang, Pangong Tso, and the Galwan. chiefs of Indian armed forces say that they have stocked sufficient winter supplies to remain perched on heights. The IAF has an edge over both China and Pakistan and is prepared to fight a two-front war to victory.
India’s then defence minister AK Antony told Lok Sabha (house of the people), `I would like to state categorically that Shyam Saran has not stated in (his) report that China has occupied or has denied access to India to any part of Indian territory’. He rebutted speculation that China had illegally occupied 640 kilometers of Indian Territory. The government’s replies to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha (council of the states) however contradict the gung-ho statements by the military. In both houses, the government denied China occupied Indian Territory (confirming Chinese view). In the wake of the death of Indian soldiers at the Galwan, even the Indian prime minister assured the all-party conference, `Neither have they intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them (China). Twenty of our jawans were martyred, but those who dared Bharat Mata (Mother India), they were taught a lesson. Today, we possess the capability that no one can eye even one inch of our land. India’s armed forces have the capability to move into multiple sectors at one go land’ (China did not enter our territory, no posts taken’: PM at all-party meet on Ladakh clash, Hindustan Times June 19, 2020).
Again, India’s defence minister Rajnath kicked up a storm in a teacup by saying `Chinese PLA had dishonoured the 1993-1996 agreement between the two nations. He then spoke of transgression by Chinese’. But the Minister of State (Mos) for Home Nityanand Rai had to clarify in a written reply that “no infiltration has been reported along the Indo-China border during the last six months”.
The government clarified in Rajya Sabha that No Chinese infiltration in past 6 months, MHA tells Rajya Sabha amid India-China standoff
Minister of State (Mos) for Home Nityanand Rai stated in a written reply that “no infiltration has been reported along the Indo-China border during the last six months” (No Chinese infiltration in past 6 months, MHA tells Rajya Sabha amid India-China standoff, India Today September 16, 2020). Will Modi-XI BRICS meeting on November 17, 2020 will be of any use in light of India’s hypocritical stand on Kadakh crisis.
For lasting peace, India needs to shun ambition to devour neighbours’ territories.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been writing freelance for over five decades. He has served federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. He knows many languages including French and Arabic.