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Why is India at daggers drawn with its neighbours?

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A simple explanation of India’s recent faceoffs with neighbours is well epitomized by the peasant saying “jiski lathi, uski bhains” (he who has the stick, has the buffalo). But, the wisdom muffled in the saying (‘might is right’) is a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. If you want a highfalutin way of saying the same thing, turn to the Greek sage, Thucydides: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” India wants to eat up its neighbours like it devoured disputed Kashmir, Junagadh, and Hyderabad.

India’s disputes with its neighbours, being simple, have simple solutions. But, India’s coercive policy and lack of political will delay the solution.

India’s precocious former foreign secretary tells how India’s attitude delayed solution of disputes. The Indian government unilaterally released new maps of disputed Jammu and Kashmir State. These maps show the disputed state as converted into an Indian `union territory’. The UT includes even Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

India presumed Pakistan, like other peripheral states, was too weak to do tit for tat. The Indian attitude reflected the Kautilyan template: bheda (sowing seeds of discord) to achieve yana (victory) through danda (force).

Kautilya believed that `all neighbouring countries were actual or potential enemies’. A corollary to his advice was fostering friendly relations with non-neighboring powerful countries. In line with the Kautliyan dictum, India’s former foreign-secretary Shyam Saran advised: `India must seek to align with other powerful states to countervail the main adversary [Pakistan].This would mean closer relations with the USA, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, all of which share India’s concern over China’s unilateral assertions of power in Asia’ (How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century).

The USA backed India’s opposition to China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said on November 22 at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, “We share India’s concerns over projects that don’t have any economic basis and that lead to a country ceding sovereignty.”

After Kashmir, India annexed Nepalese territory in the maps. In blatant violation of mutual treaties, India annexed Kalapani area on the India-Nepal border. In a press release, Nepal’s government termed the “unilateral action” as “unacceptable”. Nepal’s legislature enacted a clarification to affirm its sovereignty over Kalapani. However, India has already brazenly occupied........

© Pakistan Today

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