India boasts of one of the world’s oldest cultures and a civilization dating back to more than 5,000 years. It is a land where most of the religions of the world originated and spread their message of peace and tranquility across high icy mountains, deep seas, and deserts. India believed and still believes in, ‘<em>Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam</em>’, which literally means – the world is one family.
Our foreign policy too is based on this philosophy and on, ‘<em>Ahimsa</em>’ – non-violence. India, on attaining Independence, kept away from joining any power blocks and became one of the founders of the Non Aligned Movement. Over the years it has had peaceful relations with neighboring countries and other countries of the world, except Pakistan and China. Pakistan for its support and export of terror activities in India, especially in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and, China for its expansionist’s misdemeanor on the India-China border particularly in the recent past. Leaving aside these two countries, our relations, by and large, have been cordial with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the small island nation of Maldives – our neighborhood.
China deceived India in 1962 by breaching the ‘Panchsheel Treaty’ signed at Beijing on 28 April 1954 which stressed on non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and respect for each other’s territorial unity, integrity, and sovereignty. China attacked India unprovoked. However, since then the border between India and China almost remained peaceful except skirmishes in Sept 1967 at Nathu La and in Oct 1967 at Cho La. In these skirmishes of 1967 Indian Army gave a bloody nose to the PLA and achieved decisive tactical advantage with many PLA fortifications destroyed.
This year China started skirmishes at Galwan Valley which was repulsed by the Indian Army, causing heavy casualties to the PLA. Prior to Galwan Valley clashes, India and China clashed at Doklam in 2017 over the construction of a road in Doklam by China near the Bhutan-India-China trijunction area known as Donglang, Caochnag. This too was thwarted by Indian Army. India is the only country in the region that does not accept the political, economical and military hegemony of China. Why China is on tenterhooks? It is because India directly threatens Tibet and the strategic sea lane communication through the Indian Ocean.
India occupied strategic heights along the southern bank of the Pangong Lake on 30 Aug 2020, and also occupied Black Top, Helmet and Reqin Height which overlook China’s post at Moldo. This has shocked Chinese strategic planners. The induction of SFF (Special Frontier Force) has added fuel to the fire.
India is well prepared to take on China. India has already completed its winter stocking of rations, equipment, fuel, and weapons ready to fire on its northern border. The snow clothing, tents and kerosene heaters, packed and dry rations have been placed at the disposal of the armed forces to last a year and keep the troops comfortable in minus 50-degree centigrade temperature.
The Air Force is ready with its strike helicopters and supersonic jets augmented recently by induction of Rafale. Indian infrastructure on the India-China border matches Chinese infrastructure. New Indian T-90 Tank can now zoom into eastern Ladakh and stun the PLA. The Border Road Organization (BRO) is strengthening bridges and culverts on the Darbuk-Shyok-Doulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road to easily deploy T-90 tanks, move soldiers, combat vehicles, surface to air missiles all along eastern Ladakh. The BRO will also keep the new Darcha-Padma-Nimu-Leh Road clear of snow throughout Jan and Dec.
On the Indo-Pakistan border also the armed forces are battle-ready and can face both China and Pakistan at the same time. Pakistan will do well to remember the Indo-Pak war of 1971 which began on 03 Dec 1971, wherein its 93,000 Pakistani Army soldiers surrendered to the Indian armed forces on 16 Dec 1971. Pakistan was on its knees in just 15 days of war with India. The instrument of surrender was signed by Lt. Gen. J.S. Arora for India and Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi for the humiliated Pakistan.
India will repeat its performance of 1971 war if Pakistan tries to step into Indian territory, even though Pakistan has waged a proxy war on India knowing fully well it cannot fight a convention war with India. Pakistan’s economy is in tatters and could sink any day. Pakistan of today is limping, and the Government is on ventilator which can be switched off by the Pakistani Army brass any day. It is much weaker militarily and financially than what it was in 1971. India shares 4,063 km of border with Pakistan which is fully secured by South-Western Command at Jaipur and Northern Command at Udhampur.
Our army and air force carry out well-coordinated war games and exercises from time to time bordering Pakistan. The Indian Navy and Coast Guards monitor our maritime security with Pakistan. We are aware of the Sino-Pak tie up at Karachi harbor and building of the Gwadar port by China. The war games at sea are carried out by the three forces to keep the Indian Ocean free from intruding enemy and /or terrorists. The Indian Navy is a well balanced and cohesive three-dimensional force, capable of operating above, on and under surface of seas. It has warships, multirole frigates, nuclear powered submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles and strike bomber aircraft capable of delivering nuclear tipped bombs and missiles.
In 1971, the Indian Navy had launched Operation Trident on the Pakistani port of Karachi. The Karachi port was nearly wiped off. In Indian Navy’s attack, Pakistan lost a minesweeper, a destroyer, a cargo vessel carrying ammunition and a fuel storage tank. We hope Pakistan has not forgotten that. In short Pakistan is no match for India on land, Air, and sea.
Our other neighbor in the north is Nepal which has traditionally been close to India because of its close cultural and religious ties. Nepal shares 1,850 km border with the states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Nepali Gorkhas are enrolled in the Gorkha Regiment in India and are provided the same pay, perks and pension as Indian soldiers. The Govt of India has always rendered help to Nepal in times of need and has built many infrastructures including hospitals and roads. However, despite all this the present Govt of Nepal, headed by PM K.P. Oli Sharma has been bothering India.
Nepal updated its Map on 13 June 2020 by including the Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura – an area of 335 sq km. Although the opposition parties in Nepal have not appreciated this, Nepal probably resorted to this under influence of China. China on its part wants to cultivate Nepal against India. India has deployed its Armed Forces in substantial number on Northern border to take on China, which if required can be used against Nepal too, although a far cry.
Our other northern neighbor is Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan Kingdom, peacefully co-existing with us. It shares a 699 km border with us. India and Bhutan have built a special relationship making Bhutan a protected state which aligns its foreign, defence and commerce policy to support India. Bhutan is important to India because it serves as buffer state between India and China. The tiny country has also helped India to clear 48 militant camps of North-East insurgents operating in Bhutan. The only cause of concern to India from a security point of view is China's claim on the Chumbi valley, for which it is important for both Bhutan and India to work in tandem.
<em><strong>(To be continued)</strong></em>.