- Or the region will remain a powder keg
There are growing concerns among India’s neighbours about itd Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s violation of international agreements and aggressive stance in the region. Despite the recognition by the UN of the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi government unilaterally abrogated Articles 370 and 370A of the Indian Constitution last year and created the two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. India’s bifurcation of Kashmir has become the mother of disputes in the region. The move was strongly resented not only by Pakistan, which is an internationally recognized party to the dispute, but also by China as the Indian action affected Beijing’s claims in Laddakh. A new map of the region drawn by India after the bifurcation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir led to worsening of relations with Nepal as the map depicted an area claimed by Nepal near its border with China as part of the Indian territory. Rumblings in Nepal about the boundary with India have now resulted in a full-scale eruption since India inaugurated a new road in Uttarakhand leading to the disputed territory.
Last week China accused the Indian Army of crossing the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) into its territory, blocking its patrols and attempting to unilaterally change the status on the LoAC between the two countries in Sikkim and Ladakh. More vigorous patrolling by the two armed forces and more frequent and intense face-offs between them have made conventional methods of crisis management useless. As both sides continue to increase troops strength at points of conflict along the LoAC, several field-level meetings between sector commanders of both the armies have failed to bring down the temperature. Ladakh in particular has become a festering point for Sino-Indian relations.
There are a number of disputes between India and its neighbours that need to be resolved through peaceful talks. The resort to bluster and muscle flexing which characterize the BJP government can only lead to conflict. Instead of wasting resources on hostilities, the countries in the region need to divert them to eradicate poverty. They also need to work together to deal with the formidable challenges posed by climate change, pandemics, looming water crises, natural calamities and issues like locust attacks.