- India’s actions are creating problems for itself
By: Mishal Batool
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy establishment is keen for a new era of realism, which is to raise a greater realism to develop an effective grand strategy for a leading power. PM Modi launched his ’forward’ policy in August 2019, by revoking the nominal ‘autonomous status’ of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), in violation not only of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Simla Agreement with Pakistan but also the 1993 and 2018 understandings with China. He also converted Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into separate Union Territories and issued maps showing Chinese Aksai Chin to be a part of Indian Ladakh and AJK and GB to be parts of India. These actions were severely condemned and rejected by both Pakistan and China. But India did not take them seriously at all.
Kashmir is a small territory but the fact that it is rich with lakes and meadows and beautiful mountains, makes it a valuable piece of land for both the sides fighting for it. The conflict was low-key till now, but there have always been ceasefire violations and border skirmishes from both sides claiming it as their possession. The UN even has stated as it could be the most militarized zone in the world.
Unfortunately, much more vigorous apprehensions have arisen as a result of the changed Kashmir status on the Indian side. Previously, according to the clause of Article 370, it guaranteed the autonomy of the Kashmir state and also prevented citizens of any other state from buying property in Kashmir. But in the recent events when the Indian government revoked this Article, all hell broke on Kashmiris.
In a world where entire regions are connected and dependent on the political ties between the states, such a conflict is a direct threat to the regional peace. Despite the efforts to solve border issues, both states have failed to keep the status quo. It was constantly pushed and pulled by both governments through the continuous infrastructure developments on the borders. Though, it seems that India has been pushing the limits, by modernizing its forces as well. No states would allow such modernization on border of a disputed territory
As India thrives with powerful economic conditions as well as in the military, it gives out the only arrogant intention as an explanation of this brutality that Kashmir has been and always will be an integral part of India. The Indian officials go as far as giving out statements, which include the Azad Kashmir area and Aksai Chin while taking about Kashmir. India’s ruling party, the BJP, had promised its supporters to revoke the Article, assuring them that they will fetch Kashmir as an Indian territory, while campaigning for their elections earlier this year. The earlier episode of suicide bombing in Kashmir which was allegedly backed by an organization based in Pakistan had fueled things and the BJP highlighted this to show the need to revoke the special status of Kashmir and make it India’s part.
Because Kashmir has been in such disturbing crisis since the very beginning, there has been very little development in the dispute problem. This point also gives Indians another explanation, that because of Article 370, the Indian administration could not have done anything for Kashmiris. But now with this clause revoked, it gives them an opportunity to commit to Jammu and Kashmir for providing opportunities for development in many fields. Indian authorities as well as the population celebrated this action taken by Indian government.
Whenever there is such a conflict, the coherence between military and political factions is very necessary. There is a lesson in this for the smaller neighbours that a lot of times, bear the aggression of India, such as Pakistan. The thing that needs to be understood is that India is not capable of bearing the consequences of rapid escalation in conflict. Seeing the disconnection between India’s political rhetoric and its military potential, India can be disciplined in future as well have a hold put on its regional bullying.
It is well known that India and China are the two main actors of this region in terms of being intrusive. The difference is that China does not need any external help or alliance to show its power but India always needs a strong state backing it whenever it needs to make a show of its power. Now that there is a conflict between the two of them, the smaller states have a chance of either align themselves with the stronger party, China, or they can stay neutral. It is no secret that staying neutral will have them pushed towards India or they will have to face the regional bully all on their own.
China has much more ability to impose a similar tit-for-tat strategy on India and can occupy much more of the disputed territory but they have far more respect for the efforts to keep the status quo unlike India. This smaller skirmish can escalate into another Sino-Indian conflict by any miscalculation or mistake which will further put the regional tranquility in danger.
Analytically, the crisis can be used by India in a way to get close to the USA. This can be its chance to win US favour against China. Though already India has the access to US military hardware get enough support, now it is a case of India’s territorial integrity. They will use whatever they must, even if the cost would be another race for military alliance in the region. It appears that China will be leading, possibly making alliance with Pakistan. Then the situation of India containing China with the help of the USA would be reversed. They can no longer contain China if there is a regional military alliance. India will find itself contained.
The larger question is whether India can restore its credibility or not? Its reputation was basically shredded when India was humiliated by two different nuclear powers within 188 months. The recent standoff has helped China establishing military prowess in the region. This standoff has also proved that China can put its political ties at stake to defend its legitimate interests without any support needed from the outside.
In a world where entire regions are connected and dependent on the political ties between the states, such a conflict is a direct threat to the regional peace. Despite the efforts to solve border issues, both states have failed to keep the status quo. It was constantly pushed and pulled by both governments through the continuous infrastructure developments on the borders. Though, it seems that India has been pushing the limits, by modernizing its forces as well. No states would allow such modernization on border of a disputed territory.