CECIL VICTOR. Editorial. XXII.IV.XVIII
By Cecil Victor
How divided we are was horribly demonstrated over the past one month. That the divisiveness has an external implication was also brought home by the manner in which the Maldives defied India by inviting two Chinese warships into its territorial waters and the way Nepal has escaped its India-centric orbit. It needs to be remembered that the Chinese issued a warning of “non-interference” in the Maldives constitutional crisis and India bowed to it.
That we are unable to defend our national interests is best illustrated by the stasis that has gripped the Government of India over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that has very deliberately and with malice aforethought been carved across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Being invited by Beijing to join the project was bad enough and New Delhi’s refusal to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (of which the CPEC is an extension) is no solution to a situation that leaves India high and dry, geopolitically speaking.
Our east-west overland access to Afghanistan--cut off by Pakistan--leaves India in an overdependent situation on the the tenuous Iranian Chahbahar port complex which India is helping to build. Tenuous, because it will not take any provocation for the new US-UK-France coalition that has just launched a hundred missiles aimed at Syria for alleged involvement in the nerve gas attack on US supported rebel-held positions in Syria, to turn on Shia Iran.
Tenuous also in that the alternate faster route for resupply to Afghanistan – the air corridor – will become dysfunctional as soon as a shooting war begins. It is also not out of the realm of possibility that former Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif in his role as chief of the ‘Arab NATO’ will shift some of the air defence assets of the Gulf countries to shoot down any aircraft involved in connectivity to Afghanistan or Iran. Or the Afghan Taliban can be given the wherewithal to do the job.
Our “area of influence” is shrinking by the day. There is no excuse that can varnish over the fact that Nepal sought Chinese assistance to break out of the Indian embrace after what it perceived to be an “ economic blockade” by India of goods and fuel during the political crisis in that landlocked nation in 2015 when the BJP-led NDA came to power.
Much the same tactic is being employed against one’s own people in Jammu and Kashmir. The rape and murder of the eight year old girl was not just a crime of passion. It was a calculated, pre-meditated episode intended to scare away the periodic influx of nomadic tribes of Jammu and Kashmir, the Bakarwals. This kind of cleansing under the aegis of a coalition government inclusive of the BJP can be explained away as being tit for tat for the cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley in the early 1990s. But does it serve national interests? Having failed to retain the religious and cultural affinity with the people of Nepal what is being engineered is a dangerous disaffection in one of the most sensitive segments of the Indian periphery.
Pakistan is using the turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir to full advantage. Funeral processions are getting broader and longer and self-confessed terrorists mingle freely in the crowds. An Indian Army jawan has defected to the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist outfight operating out of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Pakistani use of honey traps to access the Indian Air Force’s operational plans through one of its officers and a similar methodology has been used to garner information about recruitment camps are straws in the wind that we can ignore only at our peril.
The manner in which rape and murder have been handled by at least two BJP-ruled States is beginning to have an impact on national security. There is a sense of déjà vu in that a similar sort of situation of internal disarray helped attract foreign intervention into Bharat centuries ago.
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