Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Line of Actual Control
Mains level: India and its neighborhood- relations.
• The India Relationship with neighbor especially with china and Pakistan moving towards in India’s favor. China has withdrawn its troops in eastern Ladakh across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
• Also Pakistan has voluntarily come forward for a ceasefire across the Line of Control (LoC), and issuing positive statements by the new U.S. administration is result of India’s proactive diplomacy and new policy.
The India-China Disengagement:
• In 2017, at Doklam where there was a 72-day stand-off, mobilisation of Indian forces led to the withdrawal of Chinese equipment and troops from the disputed area.
• It took almost 10 months for this to happen in Ladakh. It began at Pangong Tso; Depsang Plains and Hot Springs are yet to see the withdrawal.
• Both sides have agreed to a withdrawal of frontline personnel, armored elements, and proposed the creation of a buffer zone that will put a temporary moratorium on patrolling in the disputed lake.
• China is also asking India to vacate the heights it occupied in an effective countermove in the Kailash Range.
• Once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards the restoration of peace and tranquillity.
New era of Indo-Pak connectivity and cooperation:
• India –Pakistan Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021.
• The tactical step of a limited agreement that seeks only to calm the borders and lessen shelling and artillery exchanges has been imbued with such lofty goals that the move is likely to get crushed under the weight of expectations.
• The ceasefire was initially established in November 2003 in order to stabilize the situation at the de facto border between the two countries in disputed Kashmir. Pakistan, on its part, says India violated the ceasefire at least 3,097 times in 2020, killing 28 civilians and wounding 257 others.
The Shift in strategy with China:
• Prior to 2014, India used to engage in diplomacy and close matters through a quiet give and take in such conflicts along the LAC.
• In 2013, India was allegedly forced to dismantle some military structures as a part of the resolution process when China encroached into Depsang Valley. Indian troops used to generally avoid a face-off. That was the kind of peace we managed to maintain along the LAC.
• But under the new policy, the Indian forces practice active engagement on the ground while their leadership engages in negotiations with their counterparts.
• This revised strategy of ‘proactive diplomacy together with strong ground posturing’ seems to be working well with our northern neighbour.
The Shift in strategy with Pakistan:
• In a sudden development, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGsMO) of India and Pakistan decided on February 22 to strictly implement the 2003 ceasefire agreement.
• Coming after one of the worst years of ceasefire violations across the LoC (more than 5,000) and just before summer, this decision must be a greatly reassuring one for peace.
• On its part, India has always demonstrated its commitment to peace. A similar agreement was reached between the two DGsMO in 2018 too.
• Political pundits predict that when besieged from all sides, Pakistan has a propensity to spread terror and violence in India.
• India has enough experiences to appreciate Pakistan’s potential for mischief. That is why India has reiterated that there will be no let-up in counter-terror operations.
Biden administration’s approach:
• Pakistan must be under pressure from India, the new U.S. administration as well as China. There are indications that the Biden administration will adopt a nuanced approach with China.
• In its own economic and strategic interest, China would prefer to give that a chance. It probably wants Pakistan also to fall in line. Contrary to fears, the Biden administration seems to be largely siding with India in its South Asia policy.
• “We are concerned by Beijing’s pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours. As always, we will stand with friends, we will stand with partners, we will stand with allies,” a State Department official stated recently on the border stand-off.
• In another statement, the U.S. State Department said it “welcomes” the steps taken to return Jammu and Kashmir to “full economic and political normalcy consistent with India’s democratic values”.
• The dual threat across the LOC and LAC and China baring its fangs should serve as a wakeup call. To add to this, Nepal has gone hostile and possible PLA deployments in Nepal will compound our problems manifold. The next surprise by China may be around the corner.
• India’s policy makers were of the belief there will be no war. As such defence allocations were minimal and military modernisation dumped. We failed to realise that China’s policy was always based on surprise, ambiguity and deceit.