Defending the Frontiers
by Mohan Krishen Teng on 01 May 2010 4 Comments

After the Foreign Secretary level talks between India and Pakistan, the meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in Bhutan, has exposed the inconsistencies in the politics followed by India in dealing with what the Indian Government has called ‘cross-border terrorism’.


For quite some time, the Indian Government repeatedly complained about the inability of Pakistan to act against the terrorist regimes operating in that country, and accused it for the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. There is enough ground to believe that the Indian Government has once again buckled under American pressure and agreed to resume talks with Pakistan, ostensibly to smoothen relations with Pakistan, but in reality to find a settlement on Jammu & Kashmir, which Pakistan insists constitutes the core dispute responsible for destabilizing the relations between the two countries.


Americans have not hidden their preference for a settlement on Jammu & Kashmir, which underlines a territorial adjustment altering very drastically, the geographical boundaries of India. It is pertinent that Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, was present at Thimpu for the XVIth SAARC conference.


During the Cold War, the Americans pressured India to settle the Kashmir dispute as part of a wider struggle to protect the “open society and the free world” from totalitarianism. After the end of the Cold War, the Americans spared no efforts to support the Muslim Jihad that Pakistan waged in Afghanistan against the Soviet intervention, though the Jihad spilt over into Jammu & Kashmir, ravaging the whole of the north of India.


After the 9/11 Al Qaeda attack, the Americans have been vociferously seeking to persuade the Indian leadership that a settlement on Jammu & Kashmir was vital for a purposeful prosecution of the “war against terror” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the recent past, many quarters in the United States have given expression to their dissatisfaction with the Indian Government, often in much less polite words, for its inability to recognize the American concern for a settlement on Jammu & Kashmir, which they claim could not be ignored in view of the urgency with which the Afghan campaign and military operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban were being carried out.


Publicly, American concerns find expression in crude words, which are considered insolent in India, where a fairly large section of people speak English. Brian Trill of the Creator’s Syndicate, an American think tank, writes in a paper analyzing the military campaign in Afghanistan, “Thus Kashmir, the dispute at the centre of the bloody fissure between India and Pakistan, remains the most important region to the US interests—and, ironically, it exists as one of the few conflicts over which we cannot wield significant influence. There has not been a call for US mediation, the boisterous Indian population likely won’t stomach American pressure and there is a need to reiterate the loathing the Pakistanis feel towards the United States. Particularly the Pakistani military with whom power ultimately resides and which has the capacity to undermine any progress—is well steeped in distrust of the US.”


Trill adds, “Indeed the defining struggle of our time – unlike those of previous generations that pitted competing imperial aggressions and ambitions and competing capitalist and communist ideologies against one another—our challenge and foe exists outside the State-system; it is the battle against lawlessness, backwardness and statelessness.”


Another American, Patrick Seale, advocates, “an immediate and vigorous US-UN effort to broker a settlement over Kashmir—and if not a settlement then at least a reasonably amicable settlement which India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiris could live with.” Seale further notes, “The US should use its full diplomatic clout to bring this about because Kashmir weighs heavily on the situation in Afghanistan. So long as the Kashmir conflict remains unresolved, the Pakistan military and intelligence services will think that they need Jihadi allies to put down the sizeable chunk of the Indian army in Kashmir and keep Indian influence at bay in Afghanistan, a country Pakistan considers its strategic depth.”


There is enough evidence to believe that the Americans are as committed to fortify Afghanistan as a forward post in their Asian policy as they were committed to protect it in the aftermath of the Soviet intervention. There is also enough reason to believe that the Americans seek to strengthen the Muslim power of Pakistan in a more effective way than they did during the Cold War, for their interest in the Himalayas is as deep as it was in the Cold War era. Gilgit-Baltistan, horn of the northern frontier of Jammu & Kashmir, now under the occupation of Pakistan, reorganized into what is known as ‘Northern Region’ is vital to the Anglo-American-Pakistan alliance structure in Asia, as it was during the Cold War era.


American opinion is aware of the significance of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the future foreign policy formulations of the allied powers in Asia. The Commander of the allied troops in Afghanistan strongly pleads for a long military presence in Afghanistan, committed to “winning or buying over dissidents, expanding the Afghan army and police and reforming and strengthening the Kabul government.”


Former American Secretary of State for foreign affairs Henry Kissinger, the American Vice- President Joe Biden, John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, say the same thing in different words. An American journalist warns that the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan and Pakistan will have catastrophic consequences. “NATO will fold. So will Pakistan”.  That is exactly where the Indians are required to make good the forfeit to keep Pakistan and the Muslims on the American side, while they fight the Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and elsewhere in the world.


There is hardly any doubt about the existence of pressures on the Indian Government to resolve its differences with Pakistan and the Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir. There is a visible uneasiness pervading the pronouncements of Indian leaders and an ominous sense of helplessness spread across the national discourse on the whole gamut of relations between India and the other countries of the world, particularly the neighboring countries.


The solemn statement of the Indian Prime Minister that “India could not change her neighbours” and therefore, India was bound to buy peace with them at the cost they demanded is a counsel of despair. Apparently the Indian Prime Minister is convinced that after all the decades of the Indian commitment to “Panch-Sheel and Peaceful Coexistence”, “Non- Alignment”, “No first Use of Nuclear Weapons”, and “Non-Violence”, India is isolated in a world where force is the ultimate arbiter of all inter-state relations.


But why then does the Indian Prime Minister shirk from telling the truth to the Indian People that India needs a complete reappraisal of its foreign policy postulates, and the Indian political class needs to come out of its intransigence, which has brought the country to such a pass? The Indian Prime Minister must tell the nation what the “Strategic Partnership” between the Indians and Americans is worth if it underlines the demolition of the northern frontiers of India with the objective of excluding India from any future balance of power in Asia, which the Americans consider necessary for the stability of the “new world order”. For the people of India, these questions need to be answered.


The Americans are using the dispute over Jammu & Kashmir as a lever to smother India into submission. Pakistan is also using the dispute over Jammu & Kashmir, as a lever to secure submission of India. And China is also using Jammu & Kashmir as a lever to smother India into submission. The USA, China and Pakistan have common strategic objectives to follow.


Pakistan seeks to (a) open the way for the eastward expansion of the Muslim power of Pakistan into Jammu & Kashmir; (b) demolish the northern frontier of India to establish its hold on the Himalayas and (c) assume a central role in shaping a future balance of power in Asia.


The Americans are eager to (a) consolidate their military presence in Gilgit-Baltistan region to extend the reach of the Anglo-American-Pakistani alliance over the Himalayas; (b) use the Muslim power of Pakistan - spread over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir for penetration into Central Asia; and (c) to acquire a factorial role in determining the future balance of power in Asia.


The Chinese are keen to (a) consolidate their hold on the Indian territories south of the McMohan Line under their occupation; (b) establish its reach over the eastern Himalayas and reach out to Central Asia; and (c) to join United States and Pakistan in the establishment of a triangular balance of power in Asia, in which the Muslim power of Pakistan acts as the balancer, or the laughing partner.


Government of India should realize that the British fortified the northern frontier of their empire in India, which was forged by the Sikhs. It should also know that the Sikhs laid down the northern frontier of India on the ground which had been cut centuries before the Sikh empire was founded, by the Hindus of Kashmir, who Sanskritised the Himalayas. What the triangular balance of power in Asia, the Anglo-American-Muslim alliance and the Sino-Pakistan axis seek to realize, can only be achieved by the de-Sanskritisation of the Himalayas.


If the Americans fight for the safety of their borders in a country as far away as Afghanistan, how is it that Indians do not deem it necessary to secure their borders in Jammu & Kashmir? Do Indians believe that after they have got rid of Jammu & Kashmir, the Americans, the Pakistanis, and the Chinese would guarantee the neutrality of their borders?


Prof MK Teng is a retired Professor and Head of the Political Science Department of Kashmir University; he has authored many books, including a seminal work on Article 370

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