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‘Indian military aid to Afghanistan may lead to more Pathankot like attacks’

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French South Asian security expert Christophe Jaffrelot (second from right) at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Photo: IANS
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Jaipur: The Pakistani security establishment is unlikely to be happy with the Indian military aid to Afghanistan, and in the short run this could lead to more Pathankot-like attacks, says South Asia politics and security expert Christophe Jaffrelot.

“If India helps Afghanistan militarily, it could result in more Pathankots,” Jaffrelot, a professor at the Centre for Studies in International Relations at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and author of several books on India and Pakistan, told IANS in an interview at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Thursday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kabul and agreed to provide helicopters to the Afghan forces, and the attacks on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in Punjab and the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan followed, he said.

“The Pakistan Army has not taken the Indian offer of helicopters in a very good way. They already have a constant temptation to use jihadi groups against India,” said Jaffrelot.

“In the 10 years of (Congress rule), India gave Afghanistan aid but no military aid. You had talks, skirmishes, talks, skirmishes… India could live with that. It cannot live with a Pathankot every month,” he said.

On Pakistan, Jaffrelot, whose most recent book “The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience” (2015), dealt with the country’s curious paradoxes, said the world has to change its approach towards Islamabad.

“One solution will be to stop bailing it out… force it to reform its fiscal structure. The rich don’t pay taxes there. The state has no resources for development,” he said.

“The way must be trade, not aid,” he said, noting increased trade with Pakistan will also create more employment in the populous country. “This has to be among the first steps.”

Earlier, at a session titled “The Pakistan Paradox”, Jaffrelot maintained that a crackdown by the Pakistani security establishment on certain military groups makes “no real difference” for India.

“Recently, the head of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was killed in an ‘encounter’… The Pakistani forces only crack down on any group when it gets out of hand – and set up new ones. They still distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Islamists.”

Jaffrelot, who has also studied Indian politics, especially the Hindu right and has authored “The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics” (1996), “India’s Silent Revolution – The Rise of the Lower Castes in North India” (2003), “Saffron Modernity in India: Narendra Modi and his Experiment with Gujarat” (2015), also cautioned against the rise of majoritarianism in India.

“There is a risk of India becoming a mirror image of Pakistan… it would not be a very wholesome prospect,” Jaffrelot told IANS.

Noting it was a global trend with the success so far of Donald Trump in the race for the US presidential candidacy and right and far-right wing political parties in Europe, he said India had so far resisted this with its diversity and secularism.

“Majoritarianism, which would imply the majority community or Hindus are first-class citizens and minorities are not, can happen in practice, it dosn’t need a constitutional change. Israel is an example. They have not changed the law, but still,” he said, adding any such change would have implications.

“Things like ‘ghar wapsi’, beef ban, ‘love jihad’ and the like would lead to more estrangement, and ‘ghettoisation’ of the minority communities,” he said,

Apart from the security aspects of such an outcome, India would lose its “moral high ground” and its “soft power” would diminish,” he warned. (Vikas Datta, IANS)

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.