ALI SUKHANVER -
According to various media reports, the recent talks between the Indian and Chinese military have ended after adding more tension to the situation. Experts say that things are heading towards a serious break down in relations between the two countries. Even senior Indian security officials are admitting that at present the Border incidents are at their highest since 2015. The basic purpose of the recent talks in the last days of this May was not to settle down the deep rooted conflicting issues between the two countries but to ‘lower down the temperature’ between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The most interesting fact pointed out by the officials is that ‘neither army was willing to compromise’.
At present the basic reason of this rising tension rather the bone of contention is that India is working on construction plan of a road at the Pangong Tso which would connect the disputed border between the two countries. Pangong Tso also known as the Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas. An endorheic means a basin-like shape limited drainage water reservoir which normally retains water but does not allows outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans. Instead it converges into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal. At its broadest point the width of the Pangong Tso Lake is about 5 Km and this 134 km long lake travels from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. On construction of this connecting road, China has serious reservations as this road may prove a security threat to China. In the first week of this May, the Chinese and Indian troops had serious clashes on the banks of the lake leaving dozens of soldiers injured. Most of the injured ones were from the Indian Army. Once again on 9th of May the two armies had another serious clash close to the site of the Doklam standoff.
Doklam is a narrow plateau lying in the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. According to China, Doklam is a disputed territory between China and Bhutan. China considers the presence of Indian troops in that area is as a transgression. On the other hand India claims that it acts in the area on behalf of Bhutan, with which it has a 'special relationship'. The situation of conflict and confrontation between the two countries at Doklam is not new, even three years back in 2017; the situation became tense in the same way when the military troops of the two countries engaged in a warlike scenario.
Doklam is not the only point of confrontation between China and India; Siliguri Corridor is also one of the points of conflict. This is a narrow passage close to an isolated plateau in the mighty Himalayan region. It is the place where three countries India, Bhutan and China converge. This passage connects India’s northeast states with the rest of the country. Commonly this corridor is known as ‘Chicken’s Neck’ where the word ‘Chicken’ refers to India. Encroachments and illegal advancements by the Indian troops in this area have always been a strong reason of conflict and dispute between the two countries. Keeping the neighboring countries engaged in a state of war has become a routine matter for India. From Pakistan to Nepal, none of the neighboring countries is having safe and friendly relations with India.
Recently the government of Nepal has also expressed its resentment on Indian activities inside its territory. This resentment was specifically with reference to the Kalapani Territory. According to the details in the second week of this May the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a strategically crucial link road which connects Dharchula in the Indian state of Uttarakhand to the Lipulekh pass near the Line of Actual Control. The southern side of the pass is called Kalapani territory and Nepal claims this territory as its integral part. The Government of Nepal has warned the Government of India to refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal. The people of Nepal are also taking this ‘inauguration’ as a serious intrusion and invasion to their country. On 9th of May several people gathered outside the Indian embassy in Kathmandu and protested against the construction of this road-link. They were holding placards and raising slogans against Indian hegemonic designs. According to different news agencies, people in a large number joined the protest despite a nationwide coronavirus lockdown though all necessary SOPs were strictly followed.
Experts are of the opinion that Indian stubbornness may lead to a new war in the region which would directly or indirectly affect the peace of the whole South Asia. Creating a warlike scenario is never a wise desire particularly in the days when the whole world is in a state of war with the pandemic of Covid-19. In shape of Corona, we all are facing a stronger rather merciless enemy. We are left with just two options; either to destroy this brutal enemy or let it destroy all of us. So in the larger interest of the world and for the sake of our survival, we will have to behave intelligently.