Is In­dia's next tar­get Balochis­tan?

People's Review - - OP-ED - mr­ BY M.R. JOSSE

KATHMANDU: Ad­dress­ing the na­tion on 15 Au­gust from Red Fort, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ac­cused Pak­istan of glo­ri­fy­ing ter­ror­ism and threat­ened to aid and as­sist in the lib­er­a­tion not only of Pak­istan-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir, in­clud­ing Gilgit and Baltistan, but also her prov­ince of Balochis­tan. Gautam Mukher­jee in 'The Pi­o­neer', (18 Au­gust) gushed: "The Modi Doc­trine is at the be­gin­ning of a process to cham­pion aid and abet the lib­er­a­tion move­ments in Pak-oc­cu­pied Kash­mir/Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochis­tan. This, to the ab­so­lute joy of the re­sis­tance move­ments in th­ese ar­eas, and their ex­iles abroad."


Much the same chau­vin­is­tic mood was man­i­fest in an In­dian news an­chor's un­abashed com­par­i­son of Modi with Prime Min­is­ter Indira Gandhi - who acted as mid­wife in the birth of Bangladesh, in 1971. It may hence be ger­mane to re­call how Mrs. Gandhi's role has been viewed - out­side In­dia - in the con­text of Bangladesh's cre­ation. Here is one cor­us­cat­ing sam­pling, culled from Gary J. Bass' 'The Blood Tele­gram: In­dia's se­cret war in East Pak­istan' (Ran­dom House In­dia, 2013): "It is im­pos­si­ble to see Indira Gandhi as much of a guardian of hu­man rights. Her own record - in Mi­zo­ram, Na­ga­land, Kash­mir, and West Ben­gal; in a bloody crack­down in Pun­jab in 1984; and na­tion­wide in her sus­pen­sion of In­dian democ­racy in the Emer­gency - shows scant com­mit­ment to such ideals... She cer­tainly saw her chance to smash Pak­istan. In­dian of­fi­cials... were also keenly aware of the strate­gic op­por­tu­nity handed to them. "The In­dian govern­ment wanted to hurt Pak­istan, to re­sist China, to heighten its dom­i­nance over South Asia, and to shore up bor­der states from Nax­alite rev­o­lu­tion­ary vi­o­lence, to avert com­mu­nal ten­sion be­tween Hin­dus and Mus­lims, and, above all, to shuck off the crush­ing per­ma­nent bur­den of ten mil­lion refugees." 'The States­man' how­ever viewed Modi's "fire­works on Balochis­tan, Gilgit and POK" as "a rather des­per­ate ploy'' and avowed that "the hy­phen­ation of Kash­mir and Balochis­tan does nei­ther much good, as ar­tic­u­lated by the (Kash­mir) Val­ley suf­fer­ing its most vi­o­lent 15 Au­gust for over two decades - with­out a ray of hope em­a­nat­ing from Red Fort." But far more sig­nif­i­cant are com­ments in 'The Hindu' (17 Au­gust) by Shyam Saran - for­mer In­dian en­voy to Nepal and em­i­nence grise - which broad­ened the scope of dis­cus­sion to in­clude China, whose for­eign min­is­ter Wang Yi had just con­cluded a visit to In­dia. Among sev­eral as­sev­er­a­tions bear­ing on Sino-In­dian re­la­tions, Saran prof­fers a gloomy bal­ance sheet of China's se­cu­rity-di­plo­matic woes, in­clud­ing in the Asia-Pa­cific and ASEAN re­gions, be­fore pre­sent­ing a two-op­tion for­mula for In­dia to deal with China. The first is for In­dia "to ac­quire and de­ploy ca­pa­bil­i­ties which make ag­gres­sive mil­i­tary moves against In­dia a risky propo­si­tion"; the other is for her "to en­mesh it­self more tightly in the US-led coun­ter­vail­ing coali­tion against China." Saran in­forms that while there is a body of opin­ion that be­lieves that In­dia de­velop into an "in­de­pen­dent power", he dis­closes that "there is a steady creep" to­wards the sec­ond pol­icy op­tion. Mean­while, in China, as per Saran, "there is anx­i­ety that In­dia might move closer to the US... Bei­jing has cau­tioned that In­dia should avoid get­ting 'en­tan­gled' in its South China Sea dis­pute but there is also an ex­pec­ta­tion that In­dia will con­tinue to adhere to its pol­icy of strate­gic au­ton­omy." He then won­ders how China might re­act to "Modi's com­mit­ment to the re­turn of POK, in­clud­ing Gilgit and Baltistan to In­dia, and de­clares: "With­out Pak­istani con­trol of the dis­puted ter­ri­tory there would be no CPEC (China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor)." Con­tin­u­ing, he spec­u­lates, "If In­dia ad­di­tion­ally en­cour­ages an­tiPak­istan mil­i­tants in Balochis­tan, this would ef­fec­tively ad­versely af­fect the util­ity of Gwader port, another key link of the OBOR" (One Belt One Road, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping's sig­na­ture ini­tia­tive).


We shall know, by and by, how China re­acts to Modi's ver­bal py­rotech­nics - pos­si­bly even be­fore the G-20 sum­mit in China next month or the BRICS sum­mit in In­dia in Oc­to­ber. As of this writ­ing, there has not been any of­fi­cial Chi­nese re­ac­tion, ei­ther by word or ac­tion, pos­si­bly be­cause China does not wish that the G-20 meet be vi­ti­ated by the air­ing of bi­lat­eral dis­putes. Yet, over the longer term, it is vir­tu­ally mind-bog­gling to en­vis­age how Modi ex­pects to so openly chal­lenge both Pak­istan and China - and get away with it! In­dia, af­ter all, is rife with in­sur­gen­cies and re­bel­lions across vast chunks of ter­ri­tory, in­clud­ing in In­dia-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir - move­ments that could shower enor­mous, ir­repara­ble harm to her, if China were to adopt a tit­for-tat pol­icy. When rad­i­cal Is­lamic mil­i­tancy has wrought such hor­ren­dous dev­as­ta­tions glob­ally, one fails to un­der­stand how Modi and his ad­vis­ers can­not an­tic­i­pate the pos­si­bil­ity of her heavy-handed ac­tions in Mus­lim-dom­i­nated Jammu and Kash­mir trig­ger­ing re­tal­i­a­tion by ex­trem­ist forces such as ISIS. Fur­ther­more, it is very hard to imag­ine that any long-term or strate­gic Indo-US deal can be cut at this junc­ture when the in­cum­bent US ad­min­is­tra­tion is on its way out and it is un­cer­tain what the pri­or­i­ties of the in­com­ing Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion will be - even if, for ar­gu­ment's sake, it is Hil­lary Clin­ton who emerges vic­to­ri­ous in the 8 Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial sweep-stakes. A new Amer­i­can govern­ment, as we know from the past, takes time to set­tle down and get its do­mes­tic and for­eign/ se­cu­rity pol­icy act to­gether. A glim­mer of hope that In­dia will re­frain from tak­ing rash ac­tion against Pak­istan is New Delhi's pos­i­tive re­sponse to Is­lam­abad's of­fer of talks to dis­cuss the Kash­mir prob­lem. Yet, as Karachi's 'Dawn' re­minds, "In­dia can­not deny that, de­spite the pas­sage of sev­eral decades since the dis­pute emerged, Kash­mir re­mains the flash­point in the sub-con­ti­nent and the prime rea­son for the ab­sence of nor­mal re­la­tions with Pak­istan." As far as Nepal is con­cerned, there is the ur­gent need for a care­ful and bal­anced anal­y­sis of the sit­u­a­tion de­scribed above, not for­get­ting In­dia's in­ter­ven­tion­ist role in the Madesh, the five-month block­ade it sup­ported/in­spired - and its fix­a­tion with Great Power sta­tus!

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