Does anyone remember the time when India was forced to take action against Pakistan forces in East Bengal as millions of refugees began to pour into West Bengal following the revolt of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman against Islamabad’s military misrule? Forced to take military action, India stormed into East Bengal and defeated the Pakistani Army and took 90,000 Pakistani soldiers as prisoners-of-war. It was at that time that one of India’s worst enemies, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, tried to persuade China to attack India.
The same story at a different level is being enacted now. Pakistan itself is in deep trouble. It is scared that India may take advantage of its current situation and amass its troops along the Indo-Pak border. Pakistan, under pressure from the US has withdrawn a sizeable segment of its forces from the East for action against the Taliban in the West. Pakistan is afraid that India might take this opportunity and invade it. In the circumstances, the Pakistan Armed Forces must have persuaded Beijing to indulge in illegal activities along the Sino-Indian border to distract the Government of India.
According to the Indian Army chief, there were 21 Chinese incursions in June, 20 in July and 24 in August. Between 2006 and 2008 Chinese intrusions doubled from 140 incidents to 270. These are obvious tactics, but they should be taken seriously. For Shri SM Krishna, External Affairs Minister, to play down the aggressive tactics employed by China in the Ladakh region by saying that the Sino-Indian border is “most peaceful” fools no one. Shri Krishna may be playing the diplomatic game but either he is unwilling to read up on history or is ignorant of how China betrayed India even as Nehru and VK Krishna Menon were espousing Hindi Chini bhai bhai.
China is no friend of India. According to China expert Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, “China sees India as an adversary and wants to destabilise it.” According to him, “China has supported terrorists who operate in India and China transferred nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan to keep India in check.” The closer Pakistan is at the breaking point, the more China will try to encircle India by making friendly overtures towards India’s neighbours, Mynmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The United States can do nothing. Either it doesn’t want to or is incapable of taking China on-a nation to which it is deeply indebted. It is shocking to think that it is beholden to Pakistan for containing the Taliban.
To see the United States, the only Super Power on earth grovelling at the feet of Pakistan and promising it $7.5 billion in aid over five years, most of which goes into the pockets of the Pakistan Army, is unbelievable. An official US agency had charged Pakistan with misusing American aid to fight the Taliban by spending the money to buy arms to fight India. And now, to top it all former President Pervez Musharraf has himself admitted that Pakistan has been freely using US aid to strengthen its defences against India. In an interview he even went so far as to say that he did not care whether the US would be angered by his disclosure. Pakistan gets its arms practically free. India has to spend billions to match Pakistan’s offensive capabilities. The US is thus enforcing an arms race in South Asia to India’s detriment.
With the United States as ‘friend’, India does not need enemies. China is trying to keep India in perpetual fear of war and has had the impertinence to warn the Dalai Lama not to visit Arunachal Pradesh and especially Tawang. It is here that Dalai Lama halted in 1959 when he escaped from Lhasa. He has close links with a monastery there and he has every right to visit it. China’s remarks must be treated with total disdain. If once India gives in, China will misunderstand it as weakness and seek to make more demands.
Already there is a general feeling that India is weak-minded and can be easily threatened to submission. Delhi should not give the wrong signals. At the same time, Pakistan’s provocative act of firing rockets across the Wagah border calls for instant reaction. This also is a deliberate attempt to see how far Pakistan can go before Delhi reacts. The suggestion must have come from China. One sees more than a similarity between Chinese incursions in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh and Pakistani infiltration into Indian territory. The United States can be of no help either way. It has been consistently unreliable in the last four decades. The disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan has revealed that Pakistan was ready to test a nuclear bomb as early as 1984 as the US was inclined to overlook its clandestine atomic programme in the initial years, due to Islamabad’s involvement in the US-led war against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.
The US even looked the other way when Pakistan bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles from North Korea during the Kargil War and the dollars came from US aid. Even when North Korean engineers came to visit the Kahuta nuclear plant in Pakistan quite openly, the US had nothing to say. A Q Khan got away, as they say, with murder. He could do anything illegal like supplying equipments to Iran or Libya and no questions were asked. The current Pakistani attacks have not brought out one single protest or warning from Washington. Obviously, as Gordon Chang says, everybody is aware of America’s current problems which prevents Washington from taking a strong stand.
Apart from ‘invading’ Indian territory, China is becoming a host to terrorists. What arms, for instance, was a China-bound UAE Air force plane carrying when it made an emergency landing in India? At first the pilot lied about the cargo. When its real nature was discovered, there were red faces. For whom were those arms meant for? Certainly not for China? They are obviously intended for terrorists who have been given shelter in China and who make occasional forays in North East India. Shri Krishna may not want to show his hand but if he really believes that the recent incidents are not a cause for concern, India is going to be in real trouble soon. The time is ripe to tell both Pakistan and China that there is a limit to India’s forbearance and they had better beware. Barbarians do not understand politeness. They understand power and the willingness to use it. Shri SM Krishna must think again. India has paid dearly for pussyfooting in the past. It would be foolish to repeat the performance all over again.