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The politics of the India-Pakistan peace talks August 23, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Lindsay Hughes

Despite the best will of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, their attempts at creating a relatively stable relationship have been hijacked by various factions on both sides.

Background

Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly stated, even before he won the last general election, that he wishes to create a better relationship with India. This, he alleged, was crucial to Pakistan’s economic development. India’s Prime Minister has echoed this sentiment. From his perspective, better ties with Pakistan will enable India to concentrate on the “China threat” along its northern and north-eastern borders with that state. Also, the economic benefits to be accrued from a better relationship with Pakistan make it an attractive goal. Unfortunately for both Prime Ministers, though, forces in both countries are working, deliberately or otherwise, against such a resolution of their differences. Attempts at peace-making are no longer a diplomatic issue, but a highly politicised endeavour. (more…)

Diplomatic damage from latest India-Pakistan border clashes August 21, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Stephen Westcott

The recent killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops has put the Indian Government under pressure. The incident is likely to cause the suspension of the scheduled dialogue between the two countries.

Background

On 6 August 2013, five Indian soldiers were shot dead in an ambush in Indian-controlled Kashmir, near the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC). While it is unclear who was responsible for the attack, blame has been attributed to either militants backed by the Pakistan Army, or the Pakistani Special Forces themselves. Although Pakistan has denied any involvement and its Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has sent his condolences over the killings, tensions have markedly increased. Intermittent exchanges of small arms fire across the LoC have occurred throughout the week, wounding several soldiers and civilians. The most recent incident occurred on 11 August, with both sides using machine guns.

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India-China border tension and nuclear posturing May 9, 2013

Posted by aungsi in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

The standoff between China and India in Ladakh has been resolved, at least for now. After China set up five tents for 40 personnel 19 km inside what India regards as the line of control, India set up similar tents facing them.  Both lots of tents are now to be removed, but it is still unclear whether India is to remove any of the structures at Fukche and Chumar, as demanded by the Chinese.

The Chinese withdrawal only occurred after India had hardened its position on the impending visit of Indian foreign Minister Salman Kurshid to Beijing on 9 May and the reciprocal visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to New Delhi on 20 May. The Indian government was forced to harden its position by the strong public reaction to what was perceived to be its week-kneed response to the Chinese ‘incursions’.

A disturbing feature of the incident was the way it had been politicised on both sides, thus risking the protagonists being ‘locked in’ to their respective positions.

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A LOC-al affair – and India lacks a covert capability for use against Pakistan January 25, 2013

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

The recent India-Pakistan aggression and hostilities over the Line of Control (LOC) that divides the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) appear to have come out of nowhere. Or have they? What is essentially a local incident – of which, if history tells us anything, there indubitably will be more in future – may have serious ramifications for India, if one Indian analyst is to be believed (see below).

According to a well-informed Indian journalist, the recent India-Pakistan incidents on the LOC were instigated last September when a Kashmiri grandmother managed to cross the heavily fortified LOC from Indian J&K to Pakistan-Administered Azad Kashmir. (See Praveen Swami, ‘Runaway grandmother sparked savage skirmish on LoC’, The Hindu, 10 January 2013. Importantly, Indian troops failed to detect her crossing. Thereafter, the Indians built observation bunkers ‘to monitor the movement of [nearby] villagers’. Pakistani forces disliked these bunkers and started to fire at both them and their inhabitants, i.e. Indian soldiers.

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The unresolved Kashmir dispute: Let the people decide October 25, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

The Kashmir dispute is alive and (un)well, as statements made in September at the United Nations General Assembly by Pakistan’s President Zardari and India’s Foreign Minister Krishna show.  These came almost 65 years after the accession to India by Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).  Singh’s accession on 26 October 1947 was contentious.  He was reluctant to join India or Pakistan as he favoured independence for ‘his’ princely state.  Singh primarily acceded to India in order to obtain military help to defend J&K from Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan who invaded Kashmir Province on 22 October 1947.  Their plan was to capture J&K for Pakistan.  India accepted the accession, promised a plebiscite so the people of J&K could decide their future, then sent its military to J&K.  It secured Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh for India.

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Sovereignty and separatism in China and India: The myth of difference November 2, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Guest author: Dibyesh Anand, Associate Professor in International Relations, London’s University of Westminster

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum on 20 October 2010.

When it comes to dealing with dissent within the country, the contrast between the two rising powers in Asia — China and India — is distinct. The Chinese government believes in total co-option or complete marginalisation of intellectuals; the foreign ministry’s strong response to the Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo is an interesting case study in this regard. In contrast, the response of the Indian government to international recognition of critics — such as Binayak Sen of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, known for his campaigns against state-sponsored armed vigilantes in Naxal-affected Chhattisgarh in central India — is usually muted. An active civil society, competing media sources, multi-party electoral system, and effective judiciary — all with their own flaws, no doubt — cannot ensure an accountable government in India, but it does mean that dissenting voices aren’t suppressed as easily. This different attitude toward intolerance of dissent is to be expected as India is a multiparty democracy and China is a Party state (where no redressal mechanisms exist against the ruling party).

But it would be misleading to buy fully into a democratic India versus authoritarian China narrative and assume that more plurality, openness and fairness flows automatically out of the former. Anti-minority violence perpetrated by Hindu fanatics, often with state complicity, reminds us of the precariousness of life as a minority in India. While majoritarian nationalisms (Hindutva in India and Han chauvinism in China) are dangerous threats to the mainstream multiethnic nationalisms in both the countries, their lethality is more obvious in India than in China. The Chinese system is authoritarian, but it is so for everyone. Many Han Chinese feel that the government appeases the minorities but they cannot do anything about it. In India, this feeling of perceived appeasement of minorities contributes to the success of rightwing political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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Does the Kashmir insurgency offer ISAF any tips? July 30, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

Indian paramilitary forces have been trying to end the anti-Indian insurgency in the Kashmir Valley since it began in 1988. Nevertheless, this insurgency continues, with ethnic Kashmiris currently agitated again. Overall, however, casualties are down, tourists have returned in large numbers to the valley, and many Kashmiris are less inclined to support the militancy. This is partly due to war weariness. It also is partly because the alternative of joining Pakistan is relatively unattractive, while independence is totally unattainable. The Kashmir insurgency is very different from what the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confronts in Afghanistan.  Yet there are some similarities from which ISAF could learn some lessons.

First, from the outset of its troubles in the Kashmir Valley, the Indian government’s commitment in Jammu and Kahsmir (J&K) has been open ended. India has never set a date for the departure of its security forces. Repeatedly, it has made it clear that these forces will stay in the valley for ‘as long as it takes’. Conversely, governments reluctantly associated with ISAF want to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible or have suggested dates when exit strategies might commence. This has given the Taliban a powerful reason to conserve their resources and await their enemies’ invariable departure from Afghanistan after which, presumably, they will really assert themselves. (more…)