RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- PoK & AKSAI CHIN: INDIA’S OPTIONS
Union home minister Amit Shah asserted in Lok Sabha that Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Aksai Chin are part of Jammu and Kashmir and that Kashmir Valley is an integral part of the country. Moving a resolution for abrogating some provisions of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019, the home minister said there has been a long-standing demand for giving Union Territory status to Ladakh which was fulfilled by the Narendra Modi government. Dismissing opposition’s charge that introduction of the bill and the resolution were a violation of the rights of the people, Shah said nobody can stop him from introducing a resolution on Kashmir in Parliament. The government revoked some provisions of the Article 370 to take away Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and proposed bifurcation of the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, a bold and far- reaching decision that seeks to redraw the map and future of a region at the centre of a protracted militancy movement.
India shares border with Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. All over world, most conflict-free borders are those which are geographical and have been there from the times immemorial. Here Civilizations settled on either side of geographical barriers like river or mountain ranges and limited exchange takes place from very beginning. Amur River flows between Russia and China, in same way Tigris River between Iran and Turkey and these both marks political boundaries between these countries. Other boundaries are political ones and they bear historical burden as is the case of (sections of boundaries) India with neighbors like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal etc .
In this case there has been a common historical cultural flow on either side of the border and as a result there are claims or counter claims. This doesn’t imply that natural boundaries are always undisputed, river often changes their course in long term and this river (if international boundary) can result into fluctuation of political boundaries. Further, in case of Mountain ranges, a state with expansionist designs (as China is) can exert its claim unilaterally, resulting into tense situations. It is pertinent to note that these areas between china and India were once inaccessible, but technological advancements have not only made them accessible, but also strategically important. To guard borders efficiently, it is pre required that borders are agreed/delineated between the neighbors. Also, a state with malicious intent can willfully dispute border to trouble its neighbor country to hamper its progress and to derail its growth.
In Indian case borders are quite complex and almost every type of extreme geography is present at different borders viz. deserts, fertile lands, swampy marshes or tropical evergreen jungles. It has 14818 kilometers of land borders and a coast line of 7516.6 kilometers. All states except Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Delhi and Haryana have an international border or a coast line. 92 of India’s 593 districts are border districts in 17 states. India’s boundary with Pakistan (3323 km), China (3488 km), Nepal (1751 km), Bhutan (699 km), Myanmar (1643 km), and Bangladesh (4096.7 km).
India Pakistan Border
This is spread across extreme climatic conditions given that the boundary runs from the hot Thar Desert in Rajasthan to the cold Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. India shares 3323 km long and complicated boundary with Pakistan. The India-Pakistan boundary is categorized under three different heads. The first is the international boundary also known as the ‘Radcliff line’. It is 2308 km long and stretches from Gujarat to parts of Jammu district in Jammu and Kashmir. The second is the line of control (LoC), or the Cease Fire Line, which came into existence after the 1948 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan. This line is 776 km long, and runs along the districts of Jammu (some parts), Rajouri, Poonch, Baramula, Kupwara, Kargil and some portions of Leh. And the third is the actual ground position line (AGPL), which is 110 km long and extends from NJ 9842 to Indira Col in the North (Siachin Glacier).
In the 1990s, India began to fence this massive, border, of which 550 kms in J&K were completed in 2004. By 2011, almost all of the border fencing – along J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat – was completed.
Despite of fencing smuggling, mainly of Heroine is rampant at border of Punjab. It happens because villagers at both sides of border are accomplice to such activities. Further, Involvement of Local politicians is also there in these cases.
Apart from this, anti-India Jihadist Groups are in collusion with Pakistan Armed forces who constantly tries to push terrorists to Indian Side of LOC. For this there has been occasional indiscriminate firing from Pakistani side in which Soldiers and citizens get killed. Few years back there was news that a 10 meter wall of earth excavations is being erected at border near Jammu.
Integrated Check Post at Attari remains pretty busy for trade and this is only venue for cross border trade with Pakistan.
The IISS survey conducted in Gilgit Baltistan voted to join India.
India China Border
India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary. Unfortunately, the entire boundary is disputed. The line, which delineates the boundary between the two countries, is popularly called the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon. In 1913, the British-India government had called a tripartite conference, in which the boundary between India and Tibet was formalized after a discussion between the Indian and the Tibetans. A Convention was adopted, which resulted in the delimitation of the Indo-Tibetan boundary. This boundary is, however, disputed by China which terms it as illegal. It is interesting that in same agreement, boundary upto Myanmar was settled, and China accepts Mac Mohan line with Myanmar.
India and China had never shared a common boundary till; China “liberated” or occupied Tibet in 1950. It was then that the hitherto India Tibet boundary was transformed into an India-China boundary. Since 1954, China started claiming large tracts of territory along the entire border such as Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir, some areas in Uttrakhand and the entire Arunachal Pradesh. In 1957, China occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it. This episode was followed by intermittent clashes along the border, which finally culminated in the border war of 1962. The boundary, which came into existence after the war, came to be known as Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is a military held line.
The rapprochement between the two countries in 1976 enabled India and China to initiate High Level border talks in 1981 to find a solution to the vexed problem. After eight rounds, the talks broke down in 1987. In 1988, following Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to look into the border problem. In 1993, the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was signed and the India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers was set up to assist the JWG.
In 1996, the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed. In 2003, two special representatives (one each from India and China) were appointed to find a political solution to the border dispute. Till 2009, these two special representatives had held 17 rounds of talks, but it seems they have not made much headway. Recently, NSA Ajit Doval was appointed as Special Envoy for talks.
There have been no fires shot along Aksai chin border over last 40 years.
There are three stages of negotiation:
- Agreeing to guiding principles to be followed – this is done
- Recognizing Boundary and area – evolving consensus – this is toughest one and process is struck here
- Demarcation of boundaries
China’s People Liberation Army has time and again intruded Indian borders. The measures include regular interaction between the Army Headquarters and Field Commands of the two sides, additional border personnel meeting points and more telecommunication linkages between their forward posts at mutually agreed locations.
As regards border management, the India-China border throws up only a few challenges. There is hardly any circulation of people or goods between the two countries through the border. Few intermittent interactions, nonetheless did take place though the gaps in the mountain ranges. These gaps were the trade and migration routes through which people and goods flowed. Some tribes like Monpas, Sherdukpens, Membas, Khambas and Bhutias had social and cultural ties with people across the border. Many other tribes also frequented the markets of Tibet to buy and sell products, but all these stopped after the 1962 war.
Presently, there are only three designated areas along the India-China border through which border trade takes place; these are Lipu Lekh, Shipki La and Nathu La. The volume of trade in these trading points is not large. However, large scale smuggling of Chinese electronic and other consumer goods take place through these border points.
Rationale behind abolition of Article 370:
- Article 370 has prevented J&K to merge with India rather than being a basis of its merger.
- Article 370 was seen as discriminatory on the basis of gender, class, caste and place of origin.
- Post the repeal of the Article 370, doors to private investment in J&K would be opened, which would in turn increase the potential for development there.
- Increased investments would lead to increased job creation and further betterment of socio-economic infrastructure in the state.
- Opening of buying of lands would bring in investments from private individuals and multinational companies and give a boost to the local economy.
The special status of J&K was meant to end, but only with the concurrence of its people. The Centre’s abrupt move disenfranchised them on a matter that directly affected their life and sentiments. The Jammu and Ladakh are celebrating, it is important to make people of Kashmir realise that it is a win-win situation.
Source: click here