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Nuclear Pakistan: Maintaining Peace of South Asia – Modern Diplomacy

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China intends to host
second global Belt-Road-Initiative (BRI) meet next month. China expects delegates
from over 100 countries to attend the moot. The initiative has become the
world’s largest platform for international cooperation. Some 123 countries and
29 international organisations have signed the BRI agreements with China. To
extract `extra mélange’ from China, India and USA have expressed reservation
about the imminent meet. The BRI includes US$ 60-billion China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor which India opposes as it traverses through Azad Kashmir
(Freed Kashmir).  India calls Freed Kashmir Pakistan-administered or
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The so-called `constitution’ of the India-occupied
Kashmir (valley, Jammu and Ladakh), provides seats for Azad Kashmir area. This
gimmick is purported to convey the impression that Azad Kashmir is also part of
India-0ccupied Kashmir. Practically India can’t trespass into Azad Kashmir as
the Line of Control is heavily guarded by the two neighbours, at daggers drawn.
Crossfire among bunkers is an everyday phenomenon.

The first BRI meeting
was held in 2017. It was, among others, attended by 29 heads of state and
government, the United Nations’ Secretary General and heads of World Bank.
After dilly-dallying on various pretexts, India boycotted it. India and the USA
have a mélange (sovereignty, debt trap, etc.) of objections against the BRI.

Geographic structure

The BRI initially
included six corridors with landmass connectivity besides proposed Maritime
Silk Road (MSR):  (a) New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China
to Western Russia through Kazakhstan. (b) China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor,
running from Northern China to Eastern Russia. (c) China–Central Asia–West Asia
Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey. (d) China–Indochina Peninsula
Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore. (e) China–Myanmar–Bangladesh–India
Corridor, running from Southern China to Myanmar, and (f) China–Pakistan
Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan. When India decided not
to participate in the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s inaugural Belt and Road
Forum held in 2017, there emerged a dominant feeling among the supporters of
BRI that New Delhi would be isolated. India never hesitated to share its
concerns and always stood the ground.

No veto power to China

China despite being a
stakeholder has no veto power. India is sanguine that Chinese initiative in
Indian Ocean region (IOR) will not succeed unless and until India supports the
BRI, even if in a piecemeal manner.

EU’s Perspective on BRI

China is an extremely
important economic and trade partner for the European Union (EU). The EU is
currently China’s largest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second
largest trading.  Italy supports BRI. According to informed estimates,
China’s Navy, for instance, plans to build 400 warships and 100 submarines by
2030.

India’s qualms about
BRI’s impact on Indian Ocean

India is fearful that
BRI would exacerbate Sino-Indian tension in the subcontinent and the Indian
Ocean region.  India is worried about four specific corridors that
constitute major components of the BRI and run across India’s South Asian
neighborhood.  BRI includes the Trans-Himalayan Economic Corridor,
Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor (1990s), Twenty-First
Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), a combination of bilateral infrastructure projects
in the Indian Ocean region, besides the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. India
perceives these corridors and the associated infrastructure projects are
detrimental to India’s strategic interests. They run close to India’s
continental and maritime borders and may affect its security interests and
strategic environment.

As an example of
strategic implication, India quotes strategically located Sri Lankan port of
Hambantota. The port was built using Chinese loans but, due to the high
interest rates, Sri Lanka was unable to repay and incurred a burgeoning debt
burden. Unable to pay debts, Sri Lanka was forced to lease the port to China
for ninety-nine years in 2017 (lease rescinded under pressure prematurely).

Indian Ocean in a state
of flux

Recent International
Court of Justice advisory opinion on Chagos Islands has catapulted Indian Ocean
into limelight. The `advisory’ is a blow to UK’s forcible occupation of Chagos
Islands, including the strategic US airbase of Diego Garcia atoll. Many
countries, including India are trying to dominate the Ocean

India’s interest

Forty seven countries
have the Indian Ocean on their shores. The Indian Ocean is the third largest
body of water in the world. It occupies 20 per cent of the world’s ocean
surface – it is nearly 10,000 kilometers wide at the southern tips of Africa
and Australia and its area is 68.556 million square kilometers, about 5.5 times
the size of the United States

India’s motto is
‘whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia’. US Rear Admiral Alfred
Thayer Mahan says that ‘this ocean is the key to the seven seas in the
twenty-first century; the destiny of the world will be decided in these
waters’. This Ocean includes Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Flores Sea, Java
Sea Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Savu Sea, Timor Sea,
Strait of Malacca, Bay of Bengal, Mozambique Channel, and Persian Gulf.

Indian Ocean is rich
with living and non-living resources, from marine life to oil and natural gas.
Its beach sands are rich in heavy minerals and offshore placer deposits. India
is actively exploiting them to its economic advantage. It is a major sea lane
providing shipping to 90 per cent of world trade. It provides a waterway for
heavy traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the
Persian Gulf and Indonesia, and contains an estimated 40 per cent of the
world’s offshore oil production.

Admiral Alfred T. Mahan
(1840-1914) of the United States Navy highlighted strategic importance of the
Indian Ocean in these words: “whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian
Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene. The Indian
peninsula (i.e. the Deccan and below) juts 1,240 miles into the Indian Ocean.
50per cent of the Indian Ocean basin lies within a 1,000 mile radius of India,
a reality that has strategic implications. India possesses the technology to
extract minerals from the deep sea bed. Under the law of the sea, it has an
exclusive economic zone of 772,000 square miles. Chennai is a mere 3,400 miles
away from Perth in Australia, slightly more than the distance between New York
and Los Angeles.

The Ocean is a major sea
lane connecting Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas.
It has four crucial access waterways facilitating international maritime trade,
that is the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen),
Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca (bordering
Indonesia and Malaysia). These ‘chokepoints’ are critical to world oil trade as
huge amounts of oil pass through them.

Any disruption in
traffic flow through these choke-points can have disastrous consequences. The
disruption of energy flows in particular is a considerable security concern for
littoral states, as a majority of their energy lifelines are sea-based. Since
energy is critical in influencing the geo-political strategies of a nation, any
turbulence in its supply has serious security consequences. Most of the ships
approach the straits through the 10 degree channel between the Andaman and
Nicobar islands. To dominate these straits, India established its Far Eastern
Marine Command at Port Blair in the Andamans. It has developed Port Blair as a
strategic international trade center and built an oil terminal and
trans-shipment port in Campal Bay in the Nicobar islands.

China’s interest

In view of the spiraling
demand for energy, China is sensitive to the security of the sea lines of
communication and choke- points of the region. Sixty per cent of China’s oil
supplies are shipped through the Straits of Malacca.

India and China: Eyeball
to eyeball

Indian Ocean is fast
emerging as the new hot-spot of Sino-Indian rivalry. Indian desire to expand
its navy manifold to dominate the Indian Ocean has triggered shockwaves to
China and other littoral states. Whether it is controlling piracy or use of sea
resources, boats of the two countries face each other eyeball-to-eyeball. As is
obvious from capital outlays in India’s defence budget, India wants to convert
its navy into a blue-water navy as early as possible. The first item on
Indian-Navy agenda is getting new aircraft carriers. In their media interviews,
the chiefs of Indian Navy have lamented ‘dominance of smaller ships in the
naval fleet imposes limitations of reach’. He asserted that ‘the Navy had to be
built around three aircraft carriers, at least 30 destroyers and frigates, 20
submarines and replenishment ships’. The present Navy chief’s plans are no less
grandiose.

One chief said, “We are
looking at a fleet of 140 warships and 300 aircraft” (The News behind the News,
April 6, 2009, pp.14-15). What the chiefs of Indian Navy said in the past, or
the present chief says is no swagger. Dominating the Indian Ocean has been
India’s long-cherished dream since its independence. George K Tanham, in his
Indian Strategic Thought, a RAND research, observes that India wants to
establish its hegemony over Indian Ocean by establishing Pax Indica, on the
lines of Pax Britannica. He adds, India wants to ‘approach world-power status
by developing nuclear and missile capabilities, a blue water navy, and a
military-industrial complex, all obvious characteristics of the superpowers’
(page vii).

Commodore (Retd) Uday
Bhaskar of the Society for Policy Studies says, `India needs to project itself
as a credible and long term partner in a more persuasive manner, than what has
been the experience in recent years’. He added, `Islands in the Indian Ocean
Region have acquired distinctive strategic relevance and India will have to
step up its appeal and comfort index, more so since it is pitted against
China’s deep pockets.

Barry Desker, Director
Institute of defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore says, `The emergence of
new powers like China and India is expected to transform the regional strategic
landscape in a fashion that could be as dramatic as the rise of Germany in the
19th century and the United States in the 20th century’.

To counter Indian
hegemony, China is intends to have six aircraft carriers. When New Delhi
deployed one ship in the Gulf of Aden in October last year with great fanfare,
China deployed two warships to the same area. The presence of the Chinese and
Indian warships underlines Beijing’s and New Delhi’s intense economic and
strategic interests in the world’s third largest ocean.

India is acquiring
several nuclear-powered submarines to augment its 155 military vessels in the
ocean that it calls its property. India has transformed its Karnataka Bay into
an advanced naval installation. To counter New Delhi Beijing is constructing
naval stations and refueling ports around India, including in Burma, Sri Lanka
and Pakistan.

As is obvious from
capital outlays in India’s defence budget, India wants to convert its navy into
a blue-water navy as early as possible. India wants to ‘approach world-power
status by developing nuclear and missile capabilities, a blue water navy, and a
military-industrial complex, all obvious characteristics of the superpowers’.

The Ocean is a major sea
lane connecting Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas.
It has four crucial access waterways facilitating international maritime trade,
that is the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen),
Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca (bordering
Indonesia and Malaysia). These ‘chokepoints’ are critical to world oil trade as
huge amounts of oil pass through them.

Any disruption in
traffic flow through these choke-points can have disastrous consequences. The
disruption of energy flows in particular is a considerable security concern for
littoral states, as a majority of their energy lifelines are sea-based. Since
energy is critical in influencing the geo-political strategies of a nation, any
turbulence in its supply has serious security consequences.

India is acquiring
several nuclear-powered submarines to augment its 155 military vessels in the
ocean that it calls its property. India has transformed its Karnataka Bay into
an advanced naval installation. To counter New Delhi Beijing is constructing
naval stations and refueling ports around India, including in Burma, Sri Lanka
and Pakistan.

India’s troubles in
Maldives, Seychelles and Agalega Islands

India denies that its
projects in Indian Ocean neighbourhood have never been acquisitive or
“colonial”. However, it faced severe resistance, for instance, in Seychelles
and Maldives and the Agalega Islands. After facing resistance over placing its
helicopters in the Maldives’ Addu atoll and the virtual cancellation of its
project to develop the Assumption Island in the Seychelles, New Delhi moved
swiftly to ensure its US$87 million project in the Mauritius does not run into
trouble. The project involved constructing a jetty, rebuilding and extending
the runway, and building an airport terminal. Mauritian vice prime minister
explained in the parliament that `the jetty is being improved to be able to
receive ships and to extend the runway, which is in very poor condition, from
the existent 1,300 metres to 3,000. At present, `only emergency medical
evacuations are allowed due to the poor surface of the runway’. While the vice
prime minister claimed ` she did not know “of India’s military plans, Indian
Naval sources confirmed their involvement in the project. Mauritian opposition
members point out lack of transparency in the project.  Mauritian
government is still to answer why it has exempted the project from any
Environmental license process (EIA clearances).

Indian view is that
`unlike the military bases run by other countries [like Diego Garcia], the
Indian model is of a soft base’. India does not ` bar locals from moving
through any Indian-made project’. So `these governments get more control over
their domain, without diluting their sovereignty’. Even when AFCON and RITES
engineers visited the islands `they are greeted by the locals, who took their
boats up to the ship that brought them in and even accommodated and feed them
during their stay’.

Mauritian prime minister
faced tough questions in the National Assembly over Indian involvement in the
project, its costs and military implications. Mauritian vice-prime minister had
to declare, `Agalega is and will remain a Mauritian territory’. `This is an
important project. We don’t want the jetty and the airstrip to remain in poor
condition,” she added. Even local people protested when they saw Indian naval
and coastguard’s setting up transponder systems and surveillance
infrastructure. Several Islanders, including some from Agalega, which has a
tiny population of 300, formed the “Koalision Zilwa Pou Lape” (Islanders
Coalition for Peace), to lobby against the Agalega project.

A similar situation led
to Maldivian President’s decision to cancel the loan of two Indian military
helicopters and the visas of about 28 naval personnel. `The Agalega islands,
with land of only about 25 square kilometres is now in the crosshairs of
similar concerns, although most officials aware of developments believe India’s
“softer” methods will ensure the success of the project.

Adversaries’ view of
`debt trap’

Smaller countries who
received China’s bounteous loans are incapable of paying them back. India
thinks BRI may militate against India’s strategic interests. India mulls
connectivity offers a set of tools to influence other countries’ foreign policy
choices

China’s view of BRI
benefits

Chines aid helped build
East Africa first-ever expressway, and Maldives’ first-ever inter-island
bridge. Belarus was enabled to produce sedans, Kazakhstan connected to the sea,
and Southeast Asia provided a high-speed railway (being completed). Eurasian
continent gifted the longest distance freight train service.

China’s predecessors
Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom, the United States have played role in
development of Asia. They were the primary donors for development projects in
Asia since World War II The Asian Development Bank estimates that between 2016
and 2030 developing countries in the region will need to spend $1.7 trillion
per year to build the infrastructure required to “maintain its growth momentum,
eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change.”

One Belt One Road was
announced by Chinese President Xi Jinxing in 2013. It envisaged constructing a
continental road (or the economic belt) connecting China to Europe through
South and Central Asia. In addition, it envisioned creating a sea-corridor
between China and Europe by way of the Indian Ocean. Regarding the continental
route, India’s primary concern is the CPEC and increasing unease about Chinese
connectivity inroads in Nepal. The MSR horrifies India as this project could
dilute Indian influence in the Indian. China’s  

 connectivity and
infrastructure involves  four areas: transport infrastructure, port
infrastructure, aviation infrastructure, and energy infrastructure. Besides, it
includes Information Silk Road through the construction of “cross-border
optical cables,” “transcontinental submarine optical cable projects,” and
“spatial (satellite) information passageways.”

China answers suspicions

China says there is no
hidden strategic agenda to use this initiative as a means to gain sphere of
influence, or to violate other’s sovereignty. Aside from verbose statements, US,
Japan or India has not offered any BRI-alternative. Some estimates project that
China will invest up to $4 trillion to realize its vision for the BRI. Some of
India’s neighbors were among the countries that thronged the forum (Pakistan,
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Afghanistan).

The China-Pakistan
Economic corridor

The US $62 billion CPEC
begins at Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and ends at the
port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province. It would build  a
network of highways, roads, railways, pipelines, ports, and information technology
parks along the route. It would facilitate movement of Chinese goods from
China’s western provinces to the Arabian Sea across the Indian Ocean. 
Karakoram Highway between Pakistan’s Punjab Province and Gilgit-Baltistan will
be modernised. The corridor aims to connect Gilgit in northern Pakistan to
Gwadar in the south. Chinese entities have invested approximately in the CPEC.

India’s narcissist
objection to  Karakoram Highway

Earlier, India
ineffectually objected to construction of the Karakoram Highway through Gilgit
–Baltistan that India described as Pakistan occupied Kashmir. India’s then
defence minister A. K. Antony noted in 2012, “Indian territory under occupation
by China in Jammu & Kashmir since 1962 is approximately 38,000 [square
kilometers]. In addition to this, under the so-called China-Pakistan ‘Boundary
Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 [square kilometers] of
Indian territory in [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] to China.”  

Speaking at the
seventieth session of the UN General Assembly in 2015, the Indian
representative noted, “India’s reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Indian territory
illegally occupied by Pakistan for many years.” India alleges allowing the CPEC
to continue would undermine India’s sovereignty and bolster Pakistan’s claim to
the disputed territory.

So-called sovereignty
over disputed territories?

India’s real bogeys are
denial of Kashmir, and Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territories.

Mythical militarisation
of  Gilgit Baltistan and Gwadar

Without corroborative
evidence, India claims that there are 30,000 Chinese army personnel to protect
its economic interests in occupied Kashmir. Any further increase in Chinese
troops along India’s borders would further jeopardise India’s security.

New Delhi expects Gwadar
to emerge as an important naval base for China. If this turns out to be the
case, Chinese access to Gwadar’s port would allow the Chinese navy to sustain a
presence in the Indian Ocean, threatening pax indica.  Similarly
another

Corridor would connect
the Chinese city of Kunming with the Indian city of Kolkata through Dhaka in
Bangladesh and Mandalay in Myanmar, seeking to boost trade, build
infrastructure, and foster connectivity among these nations.

Pulwama ploy

India’s prime minister
Narendre Modi pounced upon Pulwama-suicide attack (February 14, 2019) to
project it into international limelight. With general 2019 elections in his
mind, he pandered to voter’s sentiments, blaming Pakistan. As a ploy to show
India’s chagrin, it launched a `counter-terror’ air strike in Balakot on
February26, 2019. The strike foundered as Pakistan Air Force downed a MiG-21 in
an aerial combat and captured its pilot the very next day (handed back on 1
March, 2019).

India attributed Pulwama
attack to Masood Azhar (Jaish-e-Mohammad). China blocked India-sponsored
effort, spearheaded by the US, the UK and France, to get Azhar declared ` a
global terrorist’.

India-China-Border
(Doklam) standoff

In June 2017 Chinese troops
were spotted extending a road through a strip of land disputed between China
and Bhutan. India perceived this as an unacceptable change to the status quo
and crossed its own border to block those works. The Doklam plateau slopes down
to the Siliguri Corridor, a narrow strip of Indian territory dividing the
Indian mainland from its north-eastern states. Were China able to block off the
corridor it would isolate India’s north-eastern region from the rest of the
country, a devastating scenario in the event of war. The Doklam standoff ended
with disengagement on 28 August. Troops from both countries remain in the area,
but are now separated by a few hundred metres.

Myth of India’s
sovereignty over Kashmir

Kashmir is a simmering
cauldron. For about seven decades, India denied Kashmiris’ their right of
self-determination. It claims that the occupied Kashmir’s constituent assembly
has voted for accession of disputed Kashmir to India. As such, it is no longer
necessary for her to let the promised plebiscite be held in Kashmir. Is India’s
argument tenable? Does history or documents corroborate India’s stand? Let us
look a bit closely at India’s stance.

Kashmir’s accession to
India

It is the Treaty of
Amritsar (1846) which entitled Gulab Singh to rule Jammu and Kashmir State.
This treaty stands lapsed under Article 7 of the Independence Act. The Act was
passed by British Parliament on July 18, 1947 to assent to creation of
independent states of India and Pakistan. The aforementioned Article 7 provides
that, with lapse of His Majesty’s suzerainty over Indian states, all treaties,
agreements, obligations, grants, usages and sufferance’s will lapse.

Mountbatten deliberately
kept mum about this reality for considerations of political expediency. The
Independence Act required intention of accession to be absolute and
crystal-clear. But, a stray glance at the ‘Instrument’ would make it clear that
it is equivocal. The ‘Instrument’ expresses ‘intention to set up an interim
government and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities’ with
maharajah’s prime minister. The last sentence in the ‘Instrument’ is ‘In haste
and with kind regards’. Handwritten corrections on the text of the ‘Instrument’
speak volubly about the wavering state of the maharajah’s mind. The instrument,
extracted under coercion and duress, is invalid under law.

Subsequent accession
resolution, passed by the occupied Kashmir’s ‘constituent assembly’ is also
void. This resolution violates the Security Council’s resolutions forbidding
India from going ahead with the accession farce. Aware of India’s intention to
get the ‘Instrument of Accession’ rubber-stamped by the puppet assembly, the
Security Council passed two resolutions to forestall the `foreseeable
accession’ by the puppet assembly. Security Council’s Resolution No 9 of March
30, 1951 and confirmatory Resolution No 122 of March 24, 1957 outlaws accession
or any other action to change status of the Jammu and Kashmir state.

Renowned journalist
Alastair Lamb also regards the Instrument of Accession, ‘signed’ by the
maharajah of Kashmir on October 26, 1947, as fraudulent (Kashmir – A
disputed legacy 1846-1990
). He argues that the maharajah was
travelling by road to Jammu (a distance of over 350 km). How could he sign the
instrument while being on the run for safety of his life? There is no evidence
of any contact between him and the Indian emissaries on October 26, 1947.

Actually, it was on
October 27, 1947 that the maharajah was informed by MC Mahajan and VP Menon
(who had flown into Srinagar) that an Instrument of Accession is being
fabricated in New Delhi. Obviously, the maharajah could not have signed the
instrument earlier than October 27, 1947. The instrument remains null and void,
even if the maharajah had actually signed it. The reason, as pointed out by
Alastair is that the `signatures’ were obtained under coercion. She points out
Indian troops had already arrived at and secured Srinagar airfield during the
middle of October 1947. On October 26, 1947, a further airlift of thousands of
Indian troops to Kashmir took place. He questions: “Would the maharajah have
signed the Instrument of Accession, had the Indian troops not been on Kashmiri
soil?”

It is eerie to note that
India has never shown the original `Instrument’ in any international forum. If
India was truthful, it should have the temerity to present the document to
Pakistan or to the UN. Isn’t it funny that, in the summer of 1995, the Indian
authorities reported the original document as lost or stolen? This fact further
beclouds authenticity of the document. India took the Kashmir issue to the UN
in 1948 under article 35 of Chapter VI which outlines the means for a peaceful
settlement of disputes. India avoided presenting the Kashmir case under the UN
Chapter VII which relates to acts of aggression. Obviously, it did so because
it knew that the Kashmir was a disputed state. And, issue of its integration
with India or Pakistan remained to be resolved.

From the foregoing, it
is evident that the Instrument of Accession does not exist. The `accession’ of
the disputed state, through a resolution of the puppet assembly, is null and
void. This `resolution’ violates the Security Council’s directive forbidding
India to forge unilateral ‘accession’ of the state.

India’s connectivity
alternative

Chinese initiative is
backed up by her surplus capital.  But rueful India has not been able to
dangle an alternative to the BRI. Italy’s endorsement of the China-proposed
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) hasn’t had much impact on Indian officials, who
have long objected to the initiative, as media reports said the South Asian
country signaled it might boycott the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum, to
be held in Beijing.

In fact, the United
States, has responded to BRI by launching similar blueprint by recruiting Japan
and any other country who feel less comfortable dealing with China.

China, the new global
hegemon

Historians, like
Ibn-e-Khaldun, Toynbee, and Arrighi, have postulated a life cycle for fall of
nations. For instance, Arrighi thinks wealthy hegemonic centres of civilisation
last for about a century and then collapse.  If USA collapses, China is
likely to take her place. Much to India’s chagrin, Pakistan would remain her
steadfast ally.

India’s myopic efforts
to isolate Pakistan

India has now publicly
stated its intention to isolate Pakistan in comity of nations. An isolated
country is a weak target. India made holding the SAARC conference in Pakistan
impossible.

India’s developmental
assistance to six neighbouring countries in South Asia over the last four
fiscal years amounted to over Rs 211 billion. The countries are Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.   India extended
developmental assistance to six neighbouring countries. The total aid to Afghanistan
from 2014-15 to 2017-18 was Rs 22.32 billion, to Bangladesh it was Rs 5.14
billion, and to Bhutan it was Rs 156.8 billion. The developmental assistance to
Maldives during the same period was Rs 2.7 billion, to Nepal it was Rs 13.22
billion, and to Sri Lanka it was Rs 10.8 billion. India has built a dam in
Afghanistan and making 11 more there. She has committed Rs 45 billion for
Bhutan’s 11th Plan – about 68 per cent of the total external assistance
received. Another Rs 5 billion came in from India as part of the economic
stimulus plan.

Modi visited only such
countries that benefited India internally or externally. Between 2014 and
2018,  over Rs 2,021 crore was spent on chartered flights, maintenance of
aircraft and hotline facilities during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to
top 10 countries from where India has received the maximum FDI inflows. Foreign
Direct Investments grew from USD 30,930.5 million in 2014, to USD 43478.27
million in 2017. A total of Rs 1,583.18 crore was spent on maintenance of Modi’s
aircraft and Rs 429.25 crore on chartered flights during the period between
June 15, 2014 and December 3, 2018. The total expenditure on hotline was Rs
9.11 crore. Modi visited over 55 countries in 48 foreign trips since taking
over as prime minister in May 2014. Over Rs 1,346 crore was incurred on
chartered flights, maintenance of aircraft and hotline facilities during
Manmohan Singh’s foreign visits from 2009-10 till 2013-14 during UPA-II. The
cumulative FDI inflows between 2014 and June 2018 stood at USD 136,077.75
million, compared to USD 81,843.71 million recorded cumulatively for the years
between 2011 and 2014.

Kashmir’s current
inferno is of India’s own making

While India blames
Pakistan for her Kashmir troubles, it is pertinent to recall what India’s
former defence minister George Fernandez (June 30, 1930 to January 29, 1930)
said about Kashmir. I quote from Victoria Schofield on page 293 of her book Kashmir
in the Crossfire (IB Taurus, London/New York, 1996.).
`I do not believe that any foreign hand
engineered the Kashmir problem’, stated George Fernandez in 1990. `The problem
was created by us, and if others decided to take advantage of it, I do not
believe that one should make that an issue; given the nature of the politics of
our subcontinent, such a development was inevitable’. (Source:  George
Fernandez. 12 October 1990, India’s Policies in Kashmir: An Assessment and
Discourse
, in Thomas, ed. Perspectives of Kashmir.).

Pacifist Kashmiri

An adage about pacifist
Kashmiris reflects how timid they were. A Kashmiri youth joined army but never
fired a shot. Asked by a Punjabi sikh (assumed to be scion of a martial
race), he replied tapsi tey thus karsi.  That is, when my gun heats
up it will automatically fire.

How the pacifist
Kashmiri is turned into human missiles?

Humiliation

`Credit’ goes to reign
of terror by 7,80,000 Indian forces in disputed state for punishing Kashmiri
stone pelters with live bullets or pellets that blinded them (Washington
Post
July 12, 2016, New York Times dated August 29, 2016) . William
Lukens, Bluemont (USA) clarified in Washington Post `To most Americans, a
pellet gun is an air-powered pistol or rifle firing a single pellet. It is
rarely able to kill or even wound a person hit with the pellet. As used by
Indian police, “pellet gun” is a 12-gauge shotgun using shells that contain
dozens of pellets propelled by gunpowder. There is a huge difference. When
Americans read “pellet gun,” they think of “you’ll shoot your eye out.” Even
girls and babies in laps are not spared.  Most of the pellets, fired from
a high-velocity pump-action guns (outlawed by Amnesty International) hit above
chest, usually face. India’s ladla (pampered) army chief (a general’s
son) has so far displayed a fight-or-flight response to insurgency rooted in
Kashmiris ’multifaceted deprivation. Just recall Indian army chief awarded
commendation certificate to Major Leetul Gogoi who drove his jeep with a
Kashmiri protester, tied to his jeep front. Gogoi was later caught red handed
with an 18-year-old girl in a Srinagar hotel. (The Hindu dated September
19, 2018).  The ladla let the offender off the hook by charging
with mild charge `fraternization with a woman’. The army chief is a misogynist
who publicly rebuked women and declared them unfit for military service.

Humiliation of Kashmiris motivates them to become human missiles. The
Pulwama Fedayeen, a schoolboy, was forced to rub his nose on ground by a
`soldier’.

Roads were blocked to prevent mourners from attending funeral prayers of
Pulwama bomber. Even dead bodies of stone-throwers are mutilated, paraded
unzipped in body-packs, and photographed by way of memorabilia. Renowned writer
Barkha Dutt reminisced (Outlook India dated February 20, 2019) a
sensible local police officer’s directive `Bodies of those killed in encounters
were to be properly zipped in covers and not paraded. At post-mortems of killed
terrorists, no photographs were to be taken or distributed.’

A Kashmiri newspaper reported that army mercilessly beats even peaceful
Kashmiri `for not hoisting Indian flag on their cars, bikes and even bicycles’,
`even for selling or buying a pencil battery for a radio or wall clock’ .The
presumption is that  `these batteries will be used in the wireless sets or
bombs’.

Persecution of Kashmiri
students and traders in Indian states

Kashmir students and
traders are being attacked or looted in schools and colleges, at bus stops and
in railway apartments throughout India. About 700 students, including girls,
fled to Valley. Even holders of PM Modi’s merit-based competitive scholarships
had to rush back to Valley for safety.

Some retired generals
and RAW’s former chief AS Daulat cautioned Modi against brutal use of force India
stayed united while Pakistan broke apart for lack of resilience and political
myopia. At the time of partition, India was embroiled in many virulent
insurgencies: Dravidian South movement, seven angry sisters of North East,
Khalistan movement. India overcame the insurgencies through talks with
Laldenga, Master Tara Singh, Dr. Phizo and others. It accepted demand for
creation of new states. Gradually the incendiary states merged into Indian
Union. But, India stands alienated in Kashmir. Lest India breaks up into `a
congeries of states’ (Sir John Winthrop Hackett, The Third World War),
it should free Kashmiris before next war with Pakistan.

India buckles on issues

Taiwan

China considers self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland even if it has to resort to force. China warned the US, India and other countries against transferring defence technology to Taiwan for producing submarines. Air India even removed logos showing Taiwan as an independent entity.

Boycott of Chinese goods

Following Pulwama
incident, India’s Confederation of All India Traders, which represents 70
million traders, said it would burn Chinese goods on March 19 to “teach a
lesson” to China. Swadeshi JagranManch, the economic wing of the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group with close ties to the ruling
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also called for a boycott of Chinese goods.
Chinese products like mobile phones made by companies such as Xiaomi Inc and
toys are ubiquitous in India. 

Trade between the
countries grew to nearly US$90 billion in the year ending March 2018. Aside
from gung-ho, India’s trade ministry said in an email the country can’t take
any unilateral punitive action against a fellow member of the World Trade Organisation.

India could not boycott
import of China-made transistors that accounted for 81.9 percent of India’s
transistor imports in 2017. The transistors are an input to almost all Indian
electronic goods and machinery. India cannot afford to switch to home-made
expensive alternative. These imports also contain embodied technologies,
particularly semiconductors, fertilizer and pharmaceutical.

CPEC

India is yet to snatch
back the Kashmir territory that China has occupied. No strike on Gwadar so far.

Inferences

Sagging US support

India can’t rely on
Trump as bulwark against China. Trump values economic issues more than
strategic issues. It may even slap tariffs on imports from India. Then there is
the Afghan-exit nightmare.

No aid

There is no alternative
to BRI for smaller countries. Gone are UNCTAD (UN conference on Trade and
Development) or Lester Pearson’s trade, not aid, days. Countries are fighting
for economic survival.  Like it could not stop BRI in other countries,
India can’t stop CPEC.

Kashmir is not an
intractable problem. Soon, India will have to revert to its foreign secretary
Jagat S Mehta’s Kashmir proposals (soft borders). Trade across divided Kashmir,
was agreed by India and Pakistan’s Musharraf within Mehta’s framework. It
flourished until Modi recently stopped it to convert Kashmir into a veritable
prison.. Mehta’s proposals are contained in his article, ‘Resolving Kashmir
in the International Context of the 1990s’
(quoted in Robert G. Wirsing, India,
Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute
(1994, St Martin’s Press). India’s
sovereignty mantra is a hoax to disguise its weak case on Kashmir and
Arunachal Pradish.

WTO and BRIC

China’s role under World
Trade Organisation and in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) would force
India to shun its spurious repugnance to BRI. In 1990, BRIC countries accounted
for 11% of global gross domestic product (GDP), by 2014 nearly 30%. These
countries are not a political alliance, like the European Union or a formal
trading association. Yet they have power as an economic bloc.

By 2050 (with China as a
sole hegemon), these economies, including India, would be wealthier than most
of the current major economic powers. Columbia University established the
BRICLab, where students examine foreign, domestic, and financial policies of
BRIC members. China and India are destined to become the world’s dominant
suppliers of manufactured goods and services by 2050. Brazil and Russia will
become dominant suppliers of raw materials. BRIC expanded to include South
Africa as the fifth nation in 2010.

Writing on wall

Advice to India

India’s ambition to
dominate the Indian Ocean does not augur well for the region. It should let
Indian Ocean remain the zone of peace.Besides, India should mend its fence
with Pakistan, sincerely support BRI and BRIC, or economically perish.

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